Passion Draws Large Crowds Nationwide

Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" has opened to sellouts, tears and pleas for tolerance. Movie theaters across the country are reporting long lines and sold-out showings of the film about Jesus Christ's final hours of life.

In Montgomery, reports were of steady crowds at the Rave Movie theatre as well as at Eastdale Mall.  Many theaters report church groups and donors have bought tickets to distribute.  One group rented the theater for the 5:30 p.m. showing to the Governor and state legislators.

One local viewer says the "movie is more powerful than she ever thought it could be."

In Texas, one man spent $42,000 to reserve an entire multiplex to share the movie with 6,000 people.  One man said afterward that he was crying during the film -- calling it "the greatest love story there is."

Many viewers say the movie affirmed their faith and brought tears to their eyes. A group of religious leaders in New Mexico is urging people not to glean anti-Semitic feelings from the film.

A student who saw a midnight screening in Los Angeles said the movie left him in shock and "physically weak".

About 50 others were at a midnight showing in a Pennsylvania town -- where groans could be heard as Jesus was nailed to the cross, followed by quiet celebrations after his resurrection.