The Passion's UK opening breaks record
Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ has gone to number one at the UK box office, taking $A4.86 million in three days over the weekend.
The film's takings marked the highest opening for a subtitled film in Britain, defeating incumbent Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
Starring James Caviezel as Jesus and Monica Belluci as Mary Magdalene, the Passion has already been a runaway success in the Australia and the United States, where it passed the $A398 million last week.
The film opens in 500 French cinemas today after winning a court challenge and getting the backing of a Muslim businessman.
While the mood in France remains hostile, on Monday a court ruled against three Jewish brothers who wanted it banned on grounds it was likely to fuel anti-Semitism.
"If God is love, none of that comes through even for a second in this grieving and violent film. Terminator is a mild allegory by comparison," the Journal du Dimanche newspaper wrote on Sunday.
Paris Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, who was born Jewish and converted as a teenager, denounced the film's violence as the opposite of Jesus's message of love and compassion.
"The Gospel is not The Gallic Wars or Napoleon's Memoires," he said last week. Love of God, he said, "is not measured in litres of hemoglobin and spilt blood".
Meanwhile in Manila, Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales urged Catholics to see the film. He called it a film of genuine artistic and religious value.
"Try to see it in an atmosphere of quiet and prayerful reflection, instead of seeking to be merely entertained," he said.
The film opens in the Philippines today.
Gibson's Passion works miracles at box office (Reuters 30/3/04)
Hostile mood awaits Gibson's Passion in France (Reuters 30/3/04)
Gibson's Passion gets blessing of Manila bishop (Reuters 29/3/04)
Manila Archbishop Recommends "The Passion" (Zenit 29/3/04)
Catholics and non Catholics welcome "The Passion of the Christ" (AsiaNews.it 30/3/04)
Pope meets with 'Passion' star Caviezel (CathNews 17/3/04)
"Passion" Star Caviezel Has a Papal Audience (Zenit 15/3/04)
Jim Caviezel's risky sacrifice (BBC 16/3/04)
Passion star meets Pope (Ekklesia 16/3/04)
US Bishops' mixed assessment of The Passion (CathNews 27/2/04)
The Passion of the Christ
31 Mar 2004