'Da Vinci Code' Prequel May Include Church Shots Despite Ban

Oscar-winning filmmaker Ron Howard is finishing work on the prequel to his adaptation of the best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code, which riled conservative Protestants and Catholics before and after its theatrical release in 2006.

"Angels & Demons," which stars actor Tom Hanks, is due for release on May 15, 2009, and will draw audiences back into a world of secret societies and church conspiracies.

The film is also expected to feature scenes that include church structures in Vatican City despite a ban that was put in place to keep the film crew from shooting them.

"We weren't allowed to shoot anything there," Howard said in a recent interview with ComingSoon.net.

But "cameras are getting kind of small," he added.

After the release of the "Da Vinci Code" movie, the Roman Catholic Church had barred Howard from shooting at the churches of Santa Maria del Popolo and Santa Maria della Vittoria, where Hank's character finds a cardinal being set on fire, according to author Dan Brown's novel.

"Usually we read the script but in this case it wasn't necessary," said Monsignor Marco Fibbi, a spokesman for the diocese of Rome, earlier this year. "Just the name Dan Brown was enough."

Though not as strong as it was against "The Da Vinci Code," opposition to "Demons & Angels" has been expressed from Protestants and Catholics alike.

Based on Brown's second novel, "Demons & Angels" follows religious symbology professor Robert Langdon of Harvard University, who must solve clues about an ancient underground brotherhood, the Illuminati, to save the Vatican from a powerful time bomb.

The first Brown adaptation, which was the second highest grossing movie of 2006 worldwide, centered around the idea that Jesus Christ married and fathered a child. It also depicted the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei as a murderous cult.