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Vandals Invade Theater in ‘Temptation’ Film Protest

Times Staff Writer

Vandals spray-painted threats and slashed seats at the Cineplex Odeon Showcase Theater in Hollywood this weekend, causing an estimated $5,000 in damage, in an apparent protest over the theater chain’s showing of the film “The Last Temptation of Christ,” police said Monday.

The theater is not showing the controversial film but is part of the Cineplex Odeon chain, which is showing the film at theaters in Century City and Universal City.

The threats on walls and floors of the La Brea Avenue theater were aimed at Lew Wasserman, chairman of MCA Inc., parent company of Universal Studios, which released the film.

One message painted on the floor below the theater screen said, “Lew Wasserman: If you release ‘The Last Temptation of Christ,’ we will wait years and decimate all Universal property,” police said.

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Police have made no arrests in the incident, believed to have occurred Saturday night.

Other Messages

Also written on the floor of the theater were messages reading, “Stop Crucifying Jesus” and “This is only the beginning.” Police said they believe that the vandals fled after the theater opened Sunday morning.

The movie has triggered nationwide protests by religious groups who say it is blasphemous, but few incidents of vandalism in connection with its release have been reported.

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The film, which portrays Jesus Christ as a mortal susceptible to temptation, is based on a novel by Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis. Kazantzakis was threatened with excommunication from the Greek Orthodox Church when the book--still a best-seller in Greece--came out in 1954.

Large demonstrations greeted the film’s release in the Los Angeles area a month ago.


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