'Passion' Could Deliver $20 Million on First Day

by Brandon Gray
February 25, 2004

HOLLYWOOD (Box Office Mojo)—Maybe Ash Wednesday should be renamed Fat Wednesday.

Fueled by unprecedented media frenzy and religious fervor, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ is delivering on the hype. Playing on 4,643 screens at 3,006 theaters, the movie could reach over $20 million today, distributor Newmarket and Box Office Mojo each project.

The $30 million production's first day will handily go down as the biggest Wednesday gross ever for a movie opening outside the summer (May-August) and holiday (November-December) seasons, and it could rank No. 5 among all Wednesday bows.

If The Passion comes in at the high end of projections, it could set the opening day record for a non-summer, non-holiday movie. Hannibal is the current title holder with $19.8 million posted in February 2001. Although The Passion's projections include around $3 million from private screenings for church groups on Monday and Tuesday.

With less than 900 theaters reporting mid-day, The Passion had rung up over $7 million from matinees alone. That's about 18% behind what The Return of the King had at the same point on its opening day, and around 4% behind The Matrix Reloaded. Return of the King went on to take in $34.5 million that day, the Wednesday record.

By the end of Thursday, The Passion could become the highest-grossing Christian movie of recent memory. It's a genre that's been ghettoized as a niche market up until now—current champ Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie grossed a modest $25.6 million in its entire run.

Developing… Stayed tuned for more updates... The Passion's full Wednesday gross will be reported Thursday morning.

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