Mel Gibson's controversial new movie has been given an early boost - distributors NEWMARKET FILMS are expanding the movie's release in theatres next week (25FEB04) to meet rising ticket demand.

Newmarket Films bosses are raising the number of movie prints to 4,000 from 2,500, and the number of theatres playing the film is expected to rise from 2,000 to 2,800.

The movie, The Passion Of The Christ, follows the final 12 hours of JESUS CHRIST's life.

Meanwhile, ARCH BONNEMA, a Southern Baptist who runs a financial services firm in Texas, saw a preview of the film and purchased $42,000 (GBP23,300) worth of tickets for opening night, which he gave away.

25/02/2004 09:21