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The Passion Spreads Nationwide

Exceeding all expectations, Mel Gibson's THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST (with vfx by Keith Vanderlaan's Captive Audience Prods.) earned an astounding $83.8M for the weekend ended Feb. 29, 2004 and $125.1M since its Wednesday bow for Newmarket, becoming the third-biggest five-day opener ever. That's better than THE RETURN OF THE KING's $124.1M. Only THE MATRIX RELOADED and SPIDER-MAN had better openings. THE PASSION also becomes the best February opener ever, the best opener for the typically slow first quarter and the largest opener ever for a subtitled film.

As for the rest of the box office, Sony's 50 FIRST DATES collected $12.5M for second place, running its total to $88.6M. Paramount's TWISTED thriller (with vfx by ILM) debuted in third with a meager $8.9M. Disney's CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE DRAMA QUEEN (with vfx by Intelligent Creatures) dropped to third in its second outing with $6.3M and a $16.9M cume. Lions Gate's DIRTY DANCING: HAVANA NIGHTS (with vfx by Intelligent Creatures) debuted in fifth place with $5.8M. Disney's MIRACLE added $4.4M to its total of $56.3M as it fell to sixth. DreamWorks' EUROTRIP slipped to seventh with $4M and $12.7M to date. Fox's WELCOME TO MOOSEPORT managed $3.2M for an eighth place finish and a cume of $11.5M. MGM's BARBERSHOP 2: BACK IN BUSINESS hit the ninth spot with $3.1M and $57.5M. And Fox Searchlight's CLUB DREAD debuted at number 10 with $3M.

For the first time, Oscar winner THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING dropped out of the top 10, grabbing $2.1M while running its amazing domestic total to $364.1M. Box office information obtained from