Alex Gibney's Scientology documentary Going Clear is to get a UK release despite legal pressure from the Church of Scientology on film companies not to allow screenings in their cinemas.
Screen Daily reports that UK lawyers acting for the church have contacted at least one company which is involved in the release of Going Clear and warned of potential copyright infringement, should the film be screened in the UK.
However, distributors and exhibitors will go ahead with their plans to show the film in 10 to 15 UK cinemas from June 26.
Screen Daily also says marketing plans for the film have been changed because of the controversy surrounding the release.
Sky Atlantic, which owns theatrical rights to the film, has reportedly postponed the film’s UK television broadcast until September, after concerns that the film could contravene libel laws in Northern Ireland.
In Going Clear, the Oscar-winning Gibney, whose previous films include Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, interviews former members of the Church of Scientology and reveals alleged abuses and `strange practices' within the organisation.
The Church of Scientology has denounced the film as “bigoted propaganda” by former members whom it calls “misfits”.
In a previous statement prior to the film’s television broadcast, the organisation said: “The Church of Scientology will be entitled to seek the protection of both UK and Irish libel laws in the event that any false or defamatory content in this film is broadcast within these jurisdictions.”
Going Clear won acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival and was shown on US TV last on HBO. It was watched by more than 5.5m viewers, becoming the network’s biggest documentary premiere in ten years.