Sony’s Ron Howard-directed thriller toplining Tom Hanks, which started rolling in Rome June 5, had last year requested permits from Rome authorities to shoot in the monumental church of Santa Maria del Popolo and the smaller Santa Maria della Vittoria, where key scenes in the eponymous Dan Brown bestseller are set.
Under Italy’s treaty with the Vatican both the Italian government and the Vatican needed to grant the permits, and the Vatican balked.
“We often provide our churches to productions whose purposes are compatible with religious sentiment,” said Father Marco Fibbi, a spokesman for the Rome diocese.
“But not when the film pursues a type of fantasy that damages common religious sentiment, as in the case of ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ ” he added.
The Roma and Lazio Film Commission, however, bent over backward for “Angels,” which in past weeks did shoot the exteriors of the two churches, and also of St. Peter’s and of Rome’s Pantheon.
“Angels & Demons” production this week moves from Rome to the former Royal Palace at Caserta, near Naples, which will double for the Vatican’s interiors.