Mel’s Still Kicking Ass

Only a master marketer could orchestrate the firestorm of controversy and publicity that has propelled Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” to a $15-20 million opening yesterday. For those who are keeping track, that may end up being more than what “The Fellowship of the Ring” or “Independence Day” made during their opening Wednesdays, and they featured ass-kicking heroes, as opposed to graphic torture scenes and Aramaic with subtitles.

Just as with his previous directorial effort, “Braveheart,” it looks like Mel will shrug off accusations of bigotry (in the case of “Braveheart,” Gibson was accused of homophobia) and clean up at the box office, and, quite probably, at the awards shows afterwards.

Most remarkably, in a story that is both tragic and oddly touching, a 56-year-old Kansas City woman suffered a heart attack and died while watching the climactic crucifixion scene.

While I’m sure Mel would say that he feels bad for the woman and her family, as a filmmaker, he has to get a charge out of knowing that his work is that shocking and powerful.

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