Ben Affleck is relieved the release of his new movie Jersey Girl was delayed - because it was originally supposed to go up against Mel Gibson's box office smash The Passion Of The Christ.

Affleck's romantic comedy, which stars Liv Tyler and his ex-fiancee Jennifer Lopez, will be unleashed in America on 26 March (04), after bosses shifted it from its planned 25 February (04) release date.

And nobody's more released than Affleck, who has watched in awe as the controversial movie detailing the final 12 hours of Jesus Christ's life has taken in over $260 million (GBP144 million).

He says, "We moved away - thank God. We were gonna open right against The Passion Of The Christ. We dodged the bullet."

Affleck - who has yet to watch the movie - also sees the success of The Passion Of The Christ as a lesson to critics.

He adds, "Here's a movie that critics sort of poo-pooed and panned and said was ridiculous or hated. And then it goes on to be monumentally successful. I think there's often times a disconnect.

"I haven't seen it yet, I've been too busy running around but I'm really looking forward to seeing it and I think it'll be interesting.

"Part of the movie's success has to be that it has a created a kind of controversy that's very dynamic where you wanna be able to have an opinion about it to talk to somebody. I think Gibson's an enormously talented film-maker."

18/03/2004 17:06