Mixed Global Reception for 'Passion'

03/26/2004 AT 01:00 PM EST

"The Passion of the Christ" is on its way to becoming one of the highest-grossing movies ever in the United States, but moviegoers in other countries may not be as receptive as first expected.

Mel Gibson's controversial film, which opened mid-month in many markets outside the U.S., has performed well in Catholic-dominated countries such as Mexico, despite receiving the equivalent to an NC-17 rating, the trade paper Variety reports.

Gibson reportedly told the Mexican press that the rating bestowed on his film upset him, noting that movies such as "Terminator 3" received a more lenient rating.

"Passion" is also performing well elsewhere in the Latin America region, trumping such blockbusters as "X2: X-Men United" and "The Matrix Revolutions."

However, European audiences have had a decidedly different take on the film. One European booker told Variety that the gory film was a little much for audiences across the Atlantic. "In addition to the explicit violence, which has turned off a lot of people, the film offers nothing new to the story of Jesus," the scheduler said.

In Germany, Disney's animated "Brother Bear" outsold Gibson's film.

Even Ireland, with its large Catholic population, failed to generate the "Passion" audiences that turned out in the United States.

Nonetheless, the film has taken in more than $300 million at the box office here, and its impact continues to be felt.

On Thursday a Texan man who had viewed the film turned himself in for the murder of a woman who was pregnant with his child. The man claimed that seeing "Passion" caused him to feel remorse and that he wanted to seek redemption, Reuters reports.

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