Whoever winds up distributing “The Passion” for Mel Gibson can expect to inherit not only a Judeo-Christian controversy but also an unconventional approach to marketing.
Bypassing standard outlets such as “Entertainment Tonight” and the E! Channel, Gibson gave the first sneak peek at “The Passion” to the Harvest Crusades, a three-day Christian gathering in Anaheim, Calif., that began Aug. 8.
In addition to the four-minute film clip in which Jesus (Jim Caviezel) is flogged and hung on the cross, the event was to include sermons and Christian music performances — as well as skateboard and motocross demonstrations.
Currently heading the publicity push for “The Passion” is Paul Lauer, a marketing consultant who published the now-defunct Catholic teen magazine You! The mag weighed in on issues such as homosexuality (“nobody ever died from abstinence”) and physical contact while dating (“avoid all of it”).
Lauer’s been creative in getting the word out about “The Passion,” but so far there’s no word as to whether he’s convinced Gibson to release the Aramaic and Latin-language film with subtitles. Early focus group screenings used subtitles, though, and Gibson is said to be leaning toward letting them stay once he’s locked the pic.