“The Passion of the Christ” upcoming release stirred anticipation so strong that churches across the country from California to Maine reserve tickets early to see the film on its release date.
In Indianapolis in East 91st Street Christian Church, the tickets that were passed down 2 days in advance of the showing numbered up to 2,400 tickets. The Senior Minister did not remark at the vast cost of the tickets, instead commenting upon the chance to spread the Gospel of Jesus “I believe our society is so visual, so if you can see it – present it in that way – it might move you in a deeper way," Duncan said.
While many evangelists were attracted to the film with abundant testimonials, websites, and books, and other pastors made known of the film through Christian radio stations, some contracted with theaters for private screenings before the release date.
Icon Productions and the distributor Newmarket Films announced that they have released it in 800 additional theaters, adding to the hype and excitement of viewers in their opportunities to experience this $25-million film, which Gibson co-wrote, directed, and financed.
The designer of WWJD (What would Jesus do?) bracelets, Bob Siemon, is now selling Passion lapel pins, key rings, and inch-long nail pendants. According to the spokesman of the Santa Ana-based company, they have already distributed 1 million Passion witness cards.
The CBA Web site declares that "Gibson's film may be a precursor to revival." Churches around the country give Sunday sermons with such themes of the sacrifice and Resurrection of Christ to proclaim the Love of God.
"Sometimes we water down the story of the Bible in terms of Christ's suffering and what he went through," Duncan said. "The momentum behind this thing is incredible," said Duncan, a professed movie-lover.
In one aspect, in terms of marketing to a specific audience namely evangelists and Christians around the country, the Passion film is not much different from that of other films. Marketing is launched "initially with a core audience, people who have an affinity for the story and whose lives are affected by it," said A. Larry Ross, a spokesman for Graham said.
"A lot of Christians don't go to movies because they're not happy with the moral values that are being portrayed. There's not enough wholesome films out there," said Robinson of Bob Siemon Designs. "People are just waiting for that movie that they can go see."