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Coke halts Jesus pic

Distrib pulls 'Jerusalem'

ROME — The Coca Cola Company has taken legal action against producers of a spirituality themed Italian film set in present day Israel in which Jesus drinks a can of Coke in the desert.

Titled “7 Km da Gerusalemme” (Seven Kilometers From Jerusalem) pic centers around a Milanese ad exec having a midlife crisis who makes a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

In the desert, near the biblical Emmaus, the Italo ad man gives Jesus a ride on his Jeep, hands him a Coke, and, while Jesus is quenching his thirst, says: “My God, what a testimonial!”

Coca Cola in a letter complained to producers Graziano Prota and Angelo Sconda demanding that the scene be cut because it is likely to give Coca Cola a negative image and complaining that use of their brand was unauthorized.

“We are not interested in this kind of product placement,” a Coca Cola Italia spokeswoman said.

Due to be released on April 6, Good Friday, “Seven Kilometers From Jerusalem” has now been pulled by distribbery Mediafilm, which was planning to capitalize on the Easter spirit.

Artika said in a statement that unless they are able to convince Coca Cola’s lawyers to change their position they will have to re-edit the film, which “means it will be released by the end of April.”

Pic is co-produced by Artika and RAI Cinema.

Based on an eponymous best-selling Italo book, “Seven Kilometers” has drawn mixed reviews from Italo crix, but was reportedly well-received by the Vatican.

A jury headed by Polish helmer Krystov Zanussi, known to be close to Vatican circles, recently gave it the top nod at the Busto Arsizio Film Fest.

Cast, toplined by Italo soap star Luca Ward, includes Rosalinda Celentano who played Satan in “The Passion of the Christ.”

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