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Last Updated: Monday, 13 October, 2003, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
'Huge interest' in Gibson's film
Mel Gibson (right) directing Jim Caviezel as Jesus (centre) in The Passion
Mel Gibson (right) directed and co-wrote The Passion
Mel Gibson's controversial film The Passion, about Christ's death, has generated "an incredible groundswell of interest", its film company has said.

So many fans sought out the trailer on the internet when it was first posted that the sites had to take it down.

In one day, 350,000 people downloaded it from Ain't It Cool News when it became available three months ago.

The Passion - which is still without a distributor - has been criticised amid fears it could encourage anti-Semitism.

I got too many hits - my bandwidth couldn't survive it
Richard Morales
TheMovieBox.net
The Passion has been directed and co-written by Gibson, and depicts the last 12 hours of Jesus' life.

Bruce Davey, president of film company Icon, which made it, told the Hollywood Reporter: "People are passionate about this film."

Harry Knowles, who runs Ain't It Cool News, said he took the trailer down after it was posted because "my site ground to a halt".

"It's a great trailer, the best I've seen this year," he said. "Probably too graphic for audiences."

Hot link

Another site that posted the trailer for a short time was TheMovieBox.net.

Richard Morales, who runs the site, said: "I got too many hits. My bandwidth couldn't survive it."

He still links to another site that hosts the trailer and said 10,000 people per week - 30% of his readers - click on the link.

The film's dialogue is in Latin, Hebrew and Aramaic, and is seen as a risky venture for any major film studio to get involved.

'Dangerous'

It has been criticised by Jewish figures in the United States for being "dangerous" and portraying Jews in a negative way.

Several independent film distributors have either made offers to buy the film or requested to see it, according to Newsweek.

Newmarket, which released cult hit Memento, was the "top contender", the report said.

Only one major studio, Fox, which has a "first-look" deal with Icon, has officially turned it down.

Death threats

The film is being compared to Martin Scorsese's 1988 film The Last Temptation of Christ, released by Universal, which also roused anger and controversy.

Tom Pollock, a Universal executive at the time, told Newsweek: "There were millions of letters written and 25,000 people marched on Universal.

"There were death threats against my chairman, myself and Marty Scorsese. There was security in our lives for years."

The film made just $8.4m (5m) at the domestic box office.


SEE ALSO:
Why Gibson's film provokes Passions
26 Aug 03  |  Entertainment
UK Jews voice Gibson film worries
26 Aug 03  |  Entertainment
Gibson film 'fuels hate mail'
13 Aug 03  |  Entertainment
Jewish group attacks Gibson film
12 Aug 03  |  Entertainment
Gibson talks up Christ film
17 Jun 03  |  Entertainment


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