The movie has confounded Hollywood’s traditional belief that religious movies don’t make money. The depiction of Jesus’s brutal betrayal, punishment and death, debuted in very wide release at 3,006 theaters throughout North America, earning an estimated $7,837 per theater. That is not far below “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King’s” $9,303. “Return of the King” holds the record for a Wednesday opener, $34.5 million.
“Passion” also generated $3 million from prepaid special screenings on Monday and Tuesday, which brings the current gross to $26.5 million.
Speaking as a longtime writer and produced screenwriter, let me tell you a little secret: Despite the supposed threats against Gibson emanating from certain Hollywood quarters, if this flick does anything like the now-predicted gross (which would stick 50-75 million dollars in Gibson’s personal pockets), not only will Mel Gibson have no trouble finding work, he’ll have to fend it off with a club.
And ten bloody religious Christian epics will be greenlighted immediately by everybody from Disney to Sony, with Spielberg being the biggest name to dive into the “First In Line To Be Second” pool.