News

'Passion' Plays On: $64.6M in Three Days

by Brandon Gray
February 28, 2004

HOLLYWOOD (Box Office Mojo)—The Passion of the Christ is performing far beyond the lofty expectations even its $26.6 million Wednesday suggested, let alone what anyone thought prior to its release.

In just three days, the tally for Mel Gibson's $30 million "Passion play" has soared to $64.6 million and by Sunday it should ascend to over $110 million—becoming the No. 1 movie of 2004 and the fifth-biggest 5-day opener ever.

Breaking down The Passion's incredible haul, it took in $26.6 million on Wednesday (including $3 million of Monday and Tuesday church previews), playing on 4,643 screens at 3,006 theaters. It eased 44% on Thursday to $14.8 million, or 37% when excluding the preview grosses from Wednesday. That's a modest drop when the norm for an uber-Wednesday opener is to fall in the 50% range as movies like The Return of the King and The Phantom Menace did.

On Friday, The Passion expanded slightly to 4,793 screens at 3,043 theaters. Business surged 57% to an estimated $23.2 million, essentially matching the Wednesday take—another unlikely feat for a movie performing at these levels. Despite three new wide releases entering the marketplace—Twisted, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights and Club DreadThe Passion still accounted for over half of all tickets sold.

The Friday gross suggests that The Passion's opening weekend (Friday-Sunday) will hit close to $75 million, landing in the top 10 of all bows and setting a new February benchmark and the record for a movie debuting outside the summer ( May-August) and holiday ( November-December) seasons. Hannibal is the previous title holder, devouring $58.0 million out of the gate in February 2001.

The Passion should prove to be the most successful movie of Gibson's career. Signs was his previous commercial high point in terms of opening weekend and total gross. Also containing a religious theme, it bowed to $60.1 million at 3,264 theaters and ended up with $228.0 million by the end of its run.

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