The Passion of the Christ grossed over $475 million at the domestic box office, making it the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time and the highest-grossing foreign-language film released in the United States. It grossed over $83 million in its first weekend alone, definitely a record for a February release. But did you know that Mel Gibson Single-handedly financed the movie?
Mel Gibson could not secure funding for ‘Passion of the Christ’ from any studio. Instead of canceling the film, he chose to fund it entirely on his own. He spent $45 million on the project and made over $475 million and he didn’t have to split the profits with anyone.
Mel Gibson’s Passion on The Passion of the Christ
Mel Gibson began the production of his film without any outside funding or distribution after several studios had turned him down.
This is a film about something that nobody wants to touch, shot in two dead languages.Mel Gibson, Actor and Filmmaker
Gibson and his company Icon Productions, provided the film’s sole funding, spending approximately $30 million on production and an additional $15 million on marketing. Following early accusations of antisemitism, Gibson struggled to find an American distribution company. Despite having a first-look deal with Icon, 20th Century Fox decided to pass on the film due to public outrage.
Gibson decided to distribute the film in the United States himself, with the help of Newmarket Films. To avoid the spectacle of other studios turning down the film and to avoid subjecting the distributor to the same intense public criticism he had received. (Source: LA Times)
How Did Martin Scorcese Indirectly Help with the Film?
The film was produced independently and shot in Italy at Cinecittà Studios in Rome and on location in Matera and Craco, both in the Basilicata region.
According to the DVD’s unique feature, Martin Scorsese had just finished his film Gangs of New York, from which Gibson and his production designers built a portion of their set. Gibson saved a lot of time and money as a result of this. (Source: Yahoo!)
How Was the Film Promoted?
Gibson deviated from the conventional film marketing formula. He ran a low-key television advertising campaign with no press junkets.
The Passion of the Christ, like earlier biblical films such as The King of Kings, was heavily promoted by many church groups, both within their organizations and to the general public. Typically licensed merchandise such as posters, T-shirts, coffee mugs, and jewelry were available from retailers and websites.
According to the United Methodist Church, many of its members, like other Christians, thought the film was an excellent way to evangelize non-believers. As a result, many congregations planned to attend the theaters, and some even set up tables to answer questions and pray.
They feel the film presents a unique opportunity to share Christianity in a way today’s public can identify with.Reverent John Tanner, Pastor of Cove United Methodist Church in Hampton Cove Alabama