Alex Gibney’s acclaimed documentary “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” may have premiered domestically back in March on HBO, but the filmmaker continues to face numerous obstacles as the Church of Scientology attempts to block the film’s international release schedule.
As Gibney told The Hollywood Reporter last week, “Every step of the way, every distributor, every festival has received multiple threatening letters from the Church of Scientology. Some have come very close to buckling.”
The biggest challenge yet has been in the U.K., where broadcaster Sky delayed the film’s April release due to concerns about Northern Ireland’s libel law. “Ireland has pretty bad laws if you’re thinking about a free press,” Gibney told THR. Since Sky is not allowed to show different signals in various regions for technological reasons, the Church was able to make threats of litigation under Irish law and successfully postpone the film’s release.
Gibney also revealed that the Sydney Film Festival received threatening letters from the Church after the film screened there. When distributor Madman began a theatrical release of the film in Australia on June 18, they received letters from the Church’s lawyers threatening defamation lawsuits.
Although the film continues to face an uphill distribution battle internationally, Gibney hopes it will keep expanding through July, as Tom Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” kicks off its global theatrical launch. Cruise has long been one of the biggest celebrity names attached to the Church.
Click here for more of The Hollywood Reporter’s investigation into the film’s international release challenges.
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