Mel Gibson has been forced to rename his controversial epic about the last hours of JESUS, because it shared its name with another new movie.

Gibson's picture will now be called THE PASSION OF CHRIST, rather than THE PASSION, because movie studio Miramax holds rights to the title of the latter - a romantic fantasy adapted by a book by British author Jeanette Winterson.

A spokesman for Gibson says the star is waiting to find out if he can keep the original name for release outside America.

The movie has provoked a flurry of criticism since its conception - particularly from Jewish leaders, who say it suggests Jews were responsible for Christ's death. But some Catholics who have seen the film have called it a "powerful rendering" of the hours leading up to Christ's Crucifixion.

The film stars Jim Caviezel as Christ and Monica Bellucci as MARY MAGDALENE, and the dialogue is spoken in Latin, Hebrew and Aramaic.

Gibson hopes to release the film before Easter (04).

16/10/2003 17:27