Crowds rush to watch The Passion of The Christ in South Africa

Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ opened this week in South Africa to huge crowds in theatres, far surpassing expectations by cinema owners. The huge showing, as reported by the Sunday Times in Johannesburg, has been driven by churches purchasing blocks of tickets all across the country.

The same fervor occurred in the United States, where the movie has grossed over $315 million so far. The Passion of The Christ has spurred increased faith to God among both Protestants and Catholics, and many Christians have felt strengthened. Many people have repented after watching the film, including criminals. A thief admitted to several burglaries to a police officer, and two men who had assaulted a third man breaking his jaw reconciled with the man and turned themselves in. It is expected to be one of the all-time high grossing movies on par with such movies as The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which has earned $374 million.

South African theatres have been swamped by moviegoers eager to see the movie. Volume has been "beyond expectations," said Diki van Zyl, marketing director for Nu Metro film distribution. "This is the first time we have seen church folk filling up theatres to see a movie," said Jan Ramatlama of Bloemfontein's Ster-Kinekor. The Sunday Times reported that janitors are picking up much more used tissues than usual. Indeed, many churches in South Africa and the United States have reported increased attendence.