Rio de Janeiro's archdiocese is demanding unspecified damages and interest from Columbia Pictures for showing the iconic landmark being destroyed in a worldwide apocalypse in a film that came out last year, the archdiocese's attorney, Claudine Dutra, said.
The archdiocese manages copyright issues related to the 40-meter (130-foot) high statue erected in 1931, which overlooks Rio with its arms outstretched.
Under Brazilian law, copyright resides in the author of a work until his death, and then is passed on to his heirs or estate or successor entity for another 70 years.
Emmerich said that he got approached by people who wanted their landmarks destroyed, such as the 101 Tower in Taipei, the world's tallest building.
But Emmerich was thinking of something even more explosive: the Kaaba, the cube-shaped building at the heart of Mecca, the focus of prayers and the Islamic pilgrimage called the Hajj; it is one of Islam's holiest sites.
"Well, I wanted to do that, I have to admit," Emmerich says. "But my co-writer Harald said I will not have a fatwa on my head because of a movie. And he was right. We have to all, in the Western world, think about this. You can actually let Christian symbols fall apart, but if you would do this with an Arab symbol, you would have a fatwa, and that sounds a little bit like what the state of this world is. So it's just something which I kind of didn't think was an important element, anyway, in the film, so I kind of left it out."
Invisible Sky Daddy was unavailable for comment.