Passion Appeal Takes Over Bookstores

March 12, 2004 -- Posted at 7:30 p.m. CST

Jonesboro, AR -- "The Passion of the Christ" continues to grab the attention of movie-goers.

The controversial film was still the top draw at the box office last weekend. After more than 2 weeks after its release, the account of the last 12 hours of Jesus' life has soared to over 200 million dollars. Experts say most films lose half their business in the second week, but the Passion's appeal remains in theatres and it's also moving to bookstores.

Tronnia Johnson has run the "Storehouse," a Christian bookstore in Jonesboro for 25 years. In that time she says she's never seen a movie influence her business like this one.

"The best selling thing we've done has been the book from the movie and then also the music," said Johnson.

The book Johnson's making reference to includes photos from scenes in the movie. Thanks to Mel Gibson's film, the publishers of this book say they've seen enormous jumps in sales. The first printing sold out so quickly that some stores have to wait another two weeks for another shipment.

But other passion books are also flying off the shelves nationwide, including the one that Mel Gibson used as a source for his movie.

And it's not just books that are exciting passion fans; there's also merchandise. Take for example, nail necklaces, bracelets, charms, t-shirts and coins.

"We haven't had anything that has been so massive, yet on the other hand not real massive. They've been really selective about what they've produced, it's not like they've gone out and produced a thousand products that say passion," said Johnson.

In addition to the movie's soundtrack, Mel Gibson will also soon release an album of hymns, featuring artists like Holly Williams, Bob Dylan, and Elvis.