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The secret behind 666

A Hollywood studio is using the satanic number to hype its new horror film.

india Updated: May 29, 2006 13:42 IST

With the clamor over religious thriller

The Da Vinci Code

barely fading, a major Hollywood studio is mining the same vein with a Satanic

666

marketing campaign for its new horror film.

The Omen, a remake of the 1976 horror classic, is the kind of film that routinely makes it big at the box office, appealing to the coveted demographic of young and predominantly male thrill-seekers.

Twentieth Century Fox has banked The Omen on a promotional campaign based on 666, the number associated with Satan, based on Revelation, the last book in the Bible.

Even the film's worldwide debut is set for June 6, 2006, or 06/06/06, which the studio conveniently has shortened to 666 in the film's logo.

In the Christian culture, the number 666 is the symbol of the devil, as related by Revelation 13:18: "This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666."

The Omen is the story of a father who realises his adopted infant son, Damien, who has a 666 birthmark on his skull, is a reincarnation of Satan. A maelstrom of death surrounds the boy.

"The prophecy is clear, the signs unmistakable: Armageddon is upon us. On 6/6/06, the omen is revealed...and our darkest fears are realized," says the 20th Century Fox website.

The use of a Satanic promotional campaign comes at a sensitive time, after this month's release of The Da Vinci Code provoked an outcry from religious groups protesting the film's controversial theme of a married Jesus Christ and a Vatican cover-up.

"Normally, a marketer is going to be very, very wary about using the devil," said Robert Thompson, professor of television at Syracuse University in New York state.

"But 666 has really emerged in the popular culture as a funny thing you bring up when you're talking about a kid misbehaving on the playground, you say 'I bet this one has a 666 on his scalp'," he said.

But Ted Baehr, president of Movieguide, a conservative Christian publication, warned the marketing could backfire.

"Any time you overemphasise the demonic and the satanic, you're feeding the lesser instincts of people who're susceptible," he said.

"The marketing can be the biggest drawback of the movie."