’The Passion’s’ Precedent: The Most-Watched Film Ever?

8 Feb

Mel Gibson's film, "The Passion", has a lot to live up to:

Last month, Outreach Inc., a Christian marketing company retained by Mel Gibson, sent a DVD trailer of Mr. Gibson's new film "The Passion of the Christ" to thousands of churches, urging pastors to promote "what may well be the greatest outreach opportunity in the past 2,000 years."

That may not be a category that gets much recognition at the Oscars. But evangelical groups have good reason to believe that Gibson's movie could become an important tool for their recruiting efforts. In fact, according to some missionary organizations, for the last couple of decades the most powerful tool they've had at their disposal is another film — "Jesus," a 1979 Warner Brothers release that has shown a remarkable ability to attract people to the Christian faith. The movie is all but forgotten in Hollywood, but it has been screened in so many big cities and tiny villages in so many countries that it is sometimes described as the most watched movie of all time. Campus Crusade for Christ credits it with saving 176 million souls.

Who knew (except the evangelicals)?

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