LOS ANGELES (AP) — The DVD of Mel Gibson's biblical epic The Passion of the Christ went on sale Tuesday and sold 2.4 million copies by midday.
"We think a lot of the consumers will be going in after work to pick it up," said Steve Feldstein, spokesman for Fox Home Entertainment, which is distributing the DVD.
Total one-day sales figures for the movie were expected Wednesday.
The Passion, starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus, earned more than $370 million (U.S.) at the North American box office, making it the second-most popular movie of the year behind Shrek 2.
The 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.
Finding Nemo holds the record for one-day DVD sales with about eight million but it's unclear how that movie was selling by midday on the day of its release, said Scott Hettrick, editor in chief of DVD Exclusive magazine.
"This is really good but it's really hard to do an apple-to-apple comparison," he said.
"It's been less than a handful of movies that have done first-day sales reporting."
He said The Passion is on track to sell as well as other Hollywood blockbusters such as Spider-Man and The Lord of the Rings movies, which topped out between 15 million and 18 million total DVD sales.
Churches and religious groups were active in trying to promote the movie to their congregations, sometimes buying huge blocks of theatre tickets for sale to parishioners. Many DVDs were paid for well in advance and picked up Tuesday.
Fox Home Entertainment reported each customer bought an average of 1.8 copies of the DVD