A Vatican ban on romantic gay drama film Weekend appears to have backfired after the film posted the highest per-screen-average takings as it opened in Italy this weekend.

The independent British film, directed by Looking’s Andrew Haigh and released in the UK back in 2011, was restricted to just ten cinemas in the country after the Italian Bishop’s Conference Film Evaluation Commission branded the story about a burgeoning gay romance “indecent” and “unusable”.

Weekend was consequently shunned by the more than 1,100 Catholic Church-owned cinemas, which make up the bulk of Italy’s network of independent movie theatres – but the ban appears to have backfired after the film pulled in more than $6,221 per screen on its opening weekend, well ahead of the The Divergent Series: Allegiant’s second-highest per-screen average of $4,217, Variety reports.

Weekend

The film’s distributor has revealed that the film even pulled in $17,000 at just one arthouse theatre in Rome – more than any other single screen movie taking in the Italian capital in that period, including multiplexes.

Even better, on the back of Weekend’s opening weekend success and headline-grabbing controversy, another eleven independent cinemas have decided they also want to screen the film, bringing the number of cinemas that will screen it next weekend to 21.

Weekend stars Tom Cullen and Chris New as two men who meet and begin a sexual relationship the week before one of them plans to leave the country, and received overwhelmingly critical acclaim upon its original release in the UK. In a recent poll by the BFI Flare Film Festival, it was voted the second-best LGBT film of all time.

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