Mel Gibson's controversial religious epic The Passion Of The Christ has broken Italy's first-day box office record, taking an unprecedented $1.4 million (GBP804,000) in its opening 24 hours.

The JIM CAVIEZEL-starring movie - which chronicles the brutal final 12 hours of Jesus Christ's life - has exceeded the record held by THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING, which took $1.3 million (GBP732,000) in a day.

In Britain, the film - which has been accused of sparking anti-Semitism - scored the biggest ever opening weekend for a subtitled movie, taking $3.78 million (GBP2.1 million) in its first three days on release.

It has also broken box office records in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.

09/04/2004 02:17