Director Ron Howard has accused Vatican officials of deliberately sabotaging filming of his upcoming movie ANGELS & DEMONS.
The film, based on author Dan Brown's book of the same name, stars Tom Hanks as a Harvard professor who investigates the murder of a physicist and a terrorist act against the Vatican by a secret brotherhood.
The movie is a prequel to 2006's The Da Vinci Code, and both have come under fire from Catholic leaders who claim the films attack the core beliefs of their faith.
Howard alleges diocese staff in Rome used "back channels" to prevent shooting near several churches key to the movie's plot - and blasts them for vetoing a special screening of Angels & Demons in Rome.
Speaking at a recent press conference, he said, "When you come to film in Rome, the official statement to you is that the Vatican has no influence. Everything progressed very smoothly, but unofficially a couple of days before we were to start filming in several of our locations, it was explained to us that through back channels and so forth, the Vatican had exerted some influence.
"There was supposed to be a reception or screening here in Rome that had been approved and I suppose that the Vatican had some influence over that."
However, a Vatican spokesman has brushed off the comments, insisting Howard is merely trying to drum up publicity for the film ahead of its release later this month (May09).