June 20, 2007 / 7:22 AM / 12 years ago

"Da Vinci" obscenity case dropped in Italy

A scene from "The Da Vinci Code" in an image courtesy of Columbia Pictures. An Italian town has dropped its obscenity investigation into the blockbuster movie a day after the probe was launched, an official said Tuesday. REUTERS/Handout

ROME (Hollywood Reporter) - An Italian town has dropped its obscenity investigation into the blockbuster movie “The Da Vinci Code” a day after the probe was launched, an official said Tuesday.

The state attorney’s office in the port village of Civitavecchia, some 40 miles north of Rome, said it was no longer following up a complaint from a group of clergy who claimed the film violated Article 528 of Italy’s Penal Code.

While the local media speculated that the change of course may have been sparked by all the negative publicity for the town — the story was widely reported in the international media — an official answering the phone at the state attorney’s office said the decision was made based on the merits of the case.

“There are no grounds for this investigation,” the official said.

The complaint named 10 people, including director Ron Howard and author Dan Brown, whose Vatican thriller inspired the 2006 movie. It was unclear what the unidentified complainants — reported by the state prosecutor to be Catholic clergy from the area — were seeking.

Under the terms of Article 528 of the Penal Code, if found guilty the defendants would have faced jail time of at least three months and fines of at least 103 euros (69 pounds).

The development comes as Howard is beginning preproduction work here on “Angels and Demons”, the highly awaited sequel to “Da Vinci,” also authored by Brown.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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