The Passion Of Christ: According to The Hollywood Reporter, when the final theater count was tallied for Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," from Newmarket Films, the New Testament-based drama opened in an ultrawide 3,006 theaters and about 4,643 screens Wednesday, grossing an estimated $15 million-$20 million.

Gibson directed and co-wrote the independent film, which cost an estimated $25 million to produce and was paid for by Gibson out of his own pocket. The R-rated film stars Jim Caviezel in the title role.

While hard boxoffice numbers for "Passion" were not available Wednesday, Rob Schwartz, senior vp marketing and distribution at Newmarket Films, said in an interview: "It's difficult to know exactly where we're going to end up, but based on the limited information we have now, we're probably looking at somewhere in the high teens for the day. It could end up at $15 million, or it may be $20 million, or anywhere in between. The final number won't be known until Thursday morning."

With a $15 million-$20 million opening day, the five-day total through Sunday for "Passion" should breeze past $60 million -- an impressive debut in anybody's book but especially for a film that was originally considered a labor of love and destined for art house fare.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.