WARSAW (Reuters) - Nearly a million people have flocked to cinemas across Poland in the last three days to see a movie that depicts Catholic priests in a highly unflattering light, breaking box-office records, its distributor said on Monday.
“Kler” (“Clergy”) is a dark drama, with moments of bleak comedy, about three fictional Catholic priests who swill vodka and mock the church. One sexually abuses a blind orphan boy.
The film has fuelled debate about the church’s influence in one of Europe’s most devout nations.
Kino Swiat, the movie distributor, said 935,000 people had seen it in the three days after its launch.
“It scored the best opening of the year and the best opening in Polish cinema history over the last 30 years .... beating Fifty Shades of Grey (with about 834,500),” it said in a statement.
Several senior members of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party have spoken out against the film.
The flagship news programme on state television, closely aligned with the PiS, called the film “just another attack on the Catholic church, brutal and untrue”.
Church attendance is declining among Poland’s 38 million people, along with the clergy’s traditional sway over policymakers, but it remains one of Europe’s most religious countries.
Reporting by Marcin Goclowski and Anna Koper; editing by Andrew Roche