'The Passion' Opens To Large Crowds in Jonesboro

February 25, 2004 - Posted at 6:15 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR - Mel Gibson's much-anticipated 'The Passion of the Christ' is already making its mark at the box office.

The film opened in Jonesboro Wednesday at the Malco Cinema 14, and is playing in multiple screens due to large crowds flocking to the theater to see the movie.  A Malco spokesperson says approximately 30,000 advance tickets for the film have already been sold in Jonesboro.  Many local churches have purchased block tickets in advance.  Wednesday's early and late shows sold out quickly.

The movie opened at midnight in several cities including Los Angeles.  One man who was at an early showing says the movie made him physically weak and left him in shock.  He says if you're a Christian, the movie will increase your faith "ten-fold."

In Plano, Texas, a financial planner who had previously seen the movie in a special screening spent $42,000 of his own money to book a theater and provide tickets for a special early morning showing.

He says the movie makes him feel like he should do something better with his life.  The graphic film details the end of Jesus's life, but should we take our children to "The Passion?"

Pastor Greg Addison saw the film at a special screening and said, "every teenager should see this film.  For children under the age of a sixth grader, I strongly suggest that parents see the movie first, so they can make an informed decision.  For some children it may be acceptable, for some it may not."

The movie's intense portrayal of the cruelty Jesius suffered has given the film an "R" rating, but Pastor Addision says that rating should not keep parents from taking a 12 year old.

"There's nothing in it that's inappropriate for a child other than the intensity of the scenes where Jesus is beaten and flogged," said Addison.

And many believe because of the passion's biblical accuracy and intensity, this is a movie that will influence kids for years to come.

"They need to understand the reality of that and be able to make a choice.  They need to see what Jesus did for them. It will have an impact on them, it will change their life and cause them see the dangers of their decisions.  It should have a very positive influence on them," said Pastor Addison.

Check your local listings for theaters and times "The Passion" is playing in your area.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)