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Hannity

'Passion' Approaches Box Office History

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes", March 16, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Well, despite early criticism from Hollywood's so-called media elite, Mel Gibson's film, "The Passion of the Christ" is making box office history. In the last three weeks, the movie was grossing more than $260 million.

Will the success of the film have a lasting impact and effect how the media and Hollywood view religious movies?

Joining me now, Jonathan Foreman, the senior film critic for the New York Post, right upstairs. Owned by the parent company.

JONATHAN FOREMAN, "NEW YORK POST": Indeed.

COLMES: Listen, is it because of the content of this movie that made it such a success at the box office or is it the controversy or some combination thereof?

FOREMAN: It's definitely some combination of both, I think. The controversy has made a huge difference. It means that lots of people want to see it because they've heard...

COLMES: You've got to see it; it's a cultural phenomenon.

FOREMAN: It's a cultural phenomenon. It's been on television for weeks and weeks. And people want to know what it's about.

That doesn't mean it's a good movie. That doesn't mean they're necessarily moved by the movie. It just means they've heard about it, they want to be a part of it.

COLMES: And does this mean that now we're going to see a whole -- a bunch of -- I mean, we had "Judas" the other night on ABC. That didn't do as well.

FOREMAN: It didn't do very well, but we are going to see a ton of religious movies, because it is an untapped market. That's definitely true.

COLMES: And will there be a market like there was this? Because this was generated by a bunch of controversy. Everybody now in Hollywood, everybody loves to follow the leader.

FOREMAN: I doubt that very much. I mean, as they say in Hollywood, no one knows anything. And now the thing that everyone knows is that religious movies are the new hot thing, but that will change.

COLMES: Is Mel Gibson an evil genius?

FOREMAN: He's a marketing genius, and he's a very cynical and ruthless marketing genius.

COLMES: You think so, cynical and ruthless?

FOREMAN: Yes.

COLMES: We had this word that the pope saw it, and word came back and he said, "It is as it was."

And then the pope's secretary, the Vatican secretary, denied that the pope actually said that.

FOREMAN: I know. I mean, what can you say about that?

COLMES: Was Mel -- Does Mel Gibson have his fingerprints on that one, do you think?

FOREMAN: Well, he certainly ran the marketing campaign, there's no doubt about. And it was brilliant provoked controversy. He said controversial things.

People helped him. I mean, journalists who hadn't seen the movie criticized it, played into it. And then it became this whole thing about it's evil Hollywood against ordinary Americans. And I don't buy that particularly.

COLMES: By the way, but other films like "The Last Temptation of Christ" had controversy surrounding it, didn't do nearly as well as this movie.

FOREMAN: That's true. This is actually -- that is true, but that wasn't made by Mel Gibson, who's a famous movie star in his own right. And the controversy wasn't as great. It wasn't as huge.

COLMES: So the fact that it was Mel Gibson, the fact that it was so controversial. And with other movies to be this successful have to generate this level of controversy would be almost impossible.

FOREMAN: Absolutely. On the other hand, of course, there's some great stories in the Bible. I mean, it is one of the greatest stories ever told. And they do move people and people are going to want to see them.

COLMES: You don't think this is about a religious revival in America?

FOREMAN: I don't think religion really needs to be revived in America. I think it's always been there, waiting to be tapped.

COLMES: Jonathan, thank you very much.

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