Sunday, February 22, 2004

800 more film screens get 'Passion'

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - Mel Gibson is adding 800 theaters to the debut of his controversial Crucifixion drama, The Passion of the Christ, Wednesday.

The $25 million film, which Gibson co-wrote, directed and financed, had been set to open in about 2,000 locations, but distributor Newmarket Films and Gibson's Icon Productions said new theaters have been added to keep up with demand for advance tickets.

"It's really picked up in the last couple of days," Newmarket chief Bob Berney said in the trade newspaper Variety on Thursday.

"A lot of what we've been hearing (from theater chains) is that instead of two prints we want four. They anticipate a much bigger opening, and they want to be able to handle it."

By way of comparison, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World debuted in more than 3,100 theaters and The Last Samurai opened in more than 2,900, Variety said.

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