Those who found Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ to be a bit too gory for their tastes can now view the film's somewhat tamer resurrection, starting today. A new theatrical version, called The Passion Recut, sets aside six minutes of the original's more disturbing bloodied footage.
You probably know the story behind the story, the one in which Gibson had to subsidize a good chunk of the $30 million production himself, after all of the major movie studios had turned him down. Companies like Disney
Gibson was richly rewarded. The film topped $370 million at the box office stateside last year (along with another $240 million overseas) and was a brisk seller when it hit the DVD market. Recut will open at a little more than 500 screens this time, nowhere near the 3,000 screens on which the original film made its debut, but it should still provide a handsome return above and beyond its marketing budget. (And you just know that the new version will be hitting store shelves in a few months.)
The timing of the release is deliberate. Just as the original found moviegoers flocking to the multiplex in the weeks leading up to Easter Sunday, Recut is also looking to do well during Lent.
For Gibson, it's another chance to say "I told you so" to the major studios. Newmarket has also taken public pride in being an independent while major studios gobble up smaller players. The majors don't stand much of a chance to get in on the film's success without possibly overpaying for Newmarket.
If the film fares respectably well -- if the same churches that bused in their congregations last year show up this time around, for example -- it could become a yearly movie-house staple, as much of an annual tradition as live passion plays or egg hunts. To be sure, it's a period piece that isn't going to feel outdated in the coming years. The major film studios, meanwhile, will have to relive, year after year, the moment they shut that virtual door shut on Gibson's ambitious project. It's like that concept of eternal damnation or something.
- The movie was a big seller on DVD this past summer.
(NYSE:LGF)did well playing a different side of the controversial spectrum.
- Talk about faith -- or your lack thereof -- in our Religion and Culture discussion board.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz did see the original film on the day it opened, but he probably won't make a repeat visit this time around. He does own shares in Disney. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.