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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 March, 2004, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Passion wins zombie cinema battle
The Passion of the Christ
Actor Jim Caviezel stars as Jesus in The Passion of the Christ
The Passion of the Christ has stormed to the top of the UK and Ireland box office with weekend takings of 2.01m.

The three-day figure marks the highest-ever opening for a subtitled film.

Shot in the ancient languages of Latin and Aramaic, Mel Gibson's controversial film details the last 12 hours in life of Jesus Christ.

Zombie thriller Dawn Of The Dead entered the film charts at number two with takings of 1.94m, while TV remake Starksy and Hutch fell to third place.

Massive publicity

Gibson's triumph comes as little surprise given the massive publicity the film, which is accused of being anti-Semitic, has generated.

The powerful depiction of the crucifixion has prompted confessions of arson and murder, and two filmgoers have died during screenings.

UK BOX OFFICE
1. The Passion of the Christ
2. Dawn Of The Dead
3. Starsky and Hutch
4. Welcome To The Jungle
5. Mona Lisa Smile
Source: Screen International

Other new entries to the top 10 include Under the Tuscan Sun, a romantic comedy starring Diane Lane, mob drama Welcome to the Jungle and the teen sequel Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London.

Agent Cody Banks 2, about a teenage secret agent, marks the Hollywood debut of S Club 7 star Hannah Spearritt.

The singer recently began filming a role in horror sequel Seed of Chucky in Romania.

A-list Hollywood stars fared less well at the UK box office, with Julia Roberts' Mona Lisa Smile falling to number five and the Kevin Costner Western Open Range at number 10.




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