While the figure from distributor Fox Home Entertainment is high, it's not quite a record breaker.
"Finding Nemo" (search) holds the No. 1 overall spot for one-day DVD sales with about 8 million. For a live-action movie, "Spider-Man" holds the one-day record with 7 million.
Although "The Passion" fell short of that, Fox Home Entertainment said it did inaugurate several secondary industry records.
In terms of one-day sales, Fox is describing the movie as the best-selling R-rated film of all time and best-selling non-English language film of all time. Most DVD sales trackers, however, only divide rankings between animation and live-action.
"The Passion," starring Jim Caviezel (search) as Jesus, earned more than $370 million at the North American box office, making it the year's second-most popular movie behind "Shrek 2," which earned $436.7 million.
Gibson's film was also one of the most controversial movies in years. Besides its violent depiction of the crucifixion, some Jewish organizations complained it might spark a rise in anti-Semitism by blaming ancient Jewish people for killing Christ.
"The Passion" DVD is on track to sell as well as Hollywood blockbusters such as "Spider-Man" and "The Lord of the Rings" movies, which topped out between 15 million and 18 million total disc sales, said Scott Hettrick, editor in chief of DVD Exclusive magazine.
Churches and religious groups were active in trying to promote the movie to their congregations, sometimes buying huge blocks of theater tickets for sale to parishioners. Many DVDs were paid for well in advance and picked up Tuesday.
Filmed in Aramaic and Latin, the movie was sold with English subtitles on VHS for $24.98, and English and Spanish subtitles on DVD for $29.98. Many retailers are cutting the price to $15 to $20, Hettrick said.
Since the "Passion" that went on sale Tuesday includes only the movie — no bonus features or documentaries that are common on most discs — a more fully loaded version of the DVD is likely in the future.