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Update: ‘Passion' Hits 4.1 Million Mark in First-Day Sales

31 Aug, 2004 By: Holly J. Wagner

The Passion of the Christ sold 4.1 million DVDs in its first full day on retail shelves, "setting an industry record on its way to becoming the No. 1 selling drama of all time, No. 1 selling independent film of all time, No. 1 selling R-rated film of all time, and No. 1 selling non-English language film of all time," according to 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The movie that tells the story of Jesus Christ's last 12 hours on Earth had racked up 2.4 million in unit sales in its first 12 hours of video release, by noon Pacific time yesterday, according to the studio.

Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ showed some nontraditional retail patterns; for example, most people buying the title were buying more than one copy, according to a statement from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, with the average being 1.8 copies.

Released in theaters last Feb. 25 – Ash Wednesday – the epic grossed more than $370 million at the box office, earning a spot in the top 10 grossing movies of all time. While religious epics seem to have a built-in audience, Passion is unusual in several ways, notably that it was filmed entirely in Latin and Aramaic, and that it carries an ‘R' rating because of graphic torture scenes. Overcoming an ‘R' rating can be a challenge for some movies, because it cuts out the youth audience, but The Passion of the Christ became the No. 1 ‘R'-rated film in history and the seventh-largest film in U.S. history, according to Fox.

The title cleaned up on preorders, topping the bestseller lists at Walmart.com and Amazon.com. The studio marketed the film through retailers in 50-copy “churchpacks” and offered, via Word Distribution, custom-imprinted church slipcases as a separate accessory. Suppliers offering them include Alliance Entertainment, Baker & Taylor, Blockbuster Video, Buy.com, Entertainment Resource Inc., Giant Eagle, Hastings Entertainment, Ingram Entertainment, Tommy K's, Tower Records, VPD, Urban Gospel Network and WaxWorks online.

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