Passion back at top of US box office

The Passion of the Christ has become the eighth bestselling movie in US history after an Easter weekend in which it routed a host of new movies at the box office.

The film reclaimed the top spot in the film charts, taking $17.1m in three days from Good Friday.

In total it has made $354.8m in the US, passing The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers for the number eight spot on the all-time domestic charts, just behind Jurassic Park.

The Passion had been No 1 in its first three weekends, then fell back in the pack for the next three before claiming the top spot again.

“That’s unprecedented. The Passion is just rewriting box-office history,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. “This is a holy day, and this movie is tailor-made for a weekend like this.”

The Passion fended off a rush of new movies. Disney’s $100m historical epic The Alamo opened weakly on $9.2m, tying for No 3 with Cedric the Entertainer’s comedy Johnson Family Vacation.

Disney faces a big loss on The Alamo, a chronicle of the 1836 last stand at the Texas fort. Starring Billy Bob Thornton as Davy Crockett and Dennis Quaid as Sam Houston, The Alamo had been scheduled for release last December and caught bad headlines after Disney delayed it for four months to give director John Lee Hancock more time in the editing room. Hancock took over as director after Ron Howard backed out.

The Alamo drew mixed reviews, with some critics calling it a historical bore and others praising its authenticity and rousing battle sequences.

“We’re disappointed, mostly because we think we made a really good film,” said Chuck Viane, Disney’s head of distribution.

“I’m shocked, quite honestly, at the number. The movie deserved better than it did.”

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