Ayelet Zurer, Tom Hanks

Elisabetta A. Villa/WireImage.com

Angels & Demons may be the prequel to the Da Vinci Code, but it's starting to sound more like a rerun.

Just as Ron Howard's adaptation of Dan Brown's bestselling Code caused controversy on both sides of the Atlantic, Angels & Demons is following suit, with Rome's diocese banning producers of the follow-up film from shooting in two churches because the subject matter "does not conform to [Catholic] views."

"It's a film that treats religious issues in a way that contrasts with common religious sentiment," Monsignor Marco Fibbi, the diocese's spokesman, told the Associated Press, echoing sentiments he previously made to Italian entertainment magazine TV Sorrisi e Canzoni.

"We would be helping them create a work that might well be beautiful but that does not conform to our views."

The two churches in question are Santa Maria del Popolo and Santa Maria della Vittoria, two architecturally lauded buildings in the heart of Rome that contain paintings by Caravaggio, sculptures by Bernini and a chapel designed by Raphael.

According to Fibbi, the diocese originally denied producers the use of the churches back in 2007, when preproduction on the film had begun. However, the writers' strike delayed shooting and the issue was recently brought up again as the crew has returned to Rome.

The religious rebuff cannot stop producers from shooting the exterior of the churches—however, they will be doing so without the backing of the diocese.

"This is a prequel to The Da Vinci Code, and it's clear that the theme is similar," Fibbi said.

The original flick's sticking plot points, which theorized that Jesus married and fathered children and painted the conservative Catholic sect of Opus Dei as a pack of vengeful murderers, prompted religious-led boycotts of the Tom Hanks-starring film.

The stand garnered plenty of headlines but did little to deter the blockbuster movie, which, per BoxOfficeMojo.com, went on to gross more than $758 million worldwide.

Angels & Demons is due out in May 2009.

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