"Passion" Soaring in the Box Office

( [email protected] ) Mar 04, 2004 10:09 AM EST

Since its release, Mel Gibson's film "Passion of the Christ" grossed $117.5 million, including a total of $3 million from group sales for its preview screenings two days prior opening day. The first three days upon release hauled in $76.2 million beginning February 27. Since Monday, March 1, approximately 5 days after the release, the film took second place just lagging behind 2003's "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" which brought in $124.1 million in its first five days.

On the other hand, "Passion" beat "Return of the King" which earned $72.7 millionin its 3 day haul, taking second place after the 3 day haul record, "Spider-Man" which has $115 million in year 2002.

"Passion" also ranks as the second-best R-rated opener, behind last year's "The Matrix Reloaded" with a three-day sum of $92 million.

"The grass-roots and the controversy obviously helped, but when you get this big a number, it's a mainstream 'wanna-see,' and word-of-mouth is now in effect," said Bob Berney, president of the film's North American distributor, Newmarket Films.

The official website has many reviews of the movie by viewers who say that they have seen the movie multiple times. The official site has surpassed 54.1 million visits after the release date of February 25.

Gibson, raised a traditional Catholic, reportedly also financed the film out of his own pocket for about $30 million. Currently, "Passion" is now playing in about in 3,043 theaters across the United States and Canada, also receiving strong support in Australia, where Gibson was raised. The film competes well with all the movies in this week's box office hits.