'Passion' Profits Spark Lawsuit

People view "The Passion of the Christ" at Cinema Carousel in Norton Shores, Mich., Feb. 24, 2004. Most viewers will find little familiar in the ancient language spoken by Jesus and other Jewish characters in the movie. But for an estimated 250,000 Chaldeans and Assyrians in the United States, Gibson's film is an unprecedented chance to hear their native tongue - Aramaic - on the big screen.
AP
Mel Gibson's film-distribution outfit is suing Regal Entertainment Group for $40 million or more, claiming the movie chain shortchanged the company on revenues from "The Passion of the Christ."

Regal, the nation's largest movie chain, agreed to pay Gibson's Icon Distribution 55 percent of receipts but reneged in May and offered only 34 percent, George Hedges, an attorney for Icon, said Tuesday.

Icon filed the lawsuit Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, saying Regal owed the company "in excess" of $40 million.

An executive at Regal Entertainment - formed in 2001 by Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz from debt-loaded chains Regal Cinemas, United Artists Theater and Edwards Theatres - would not discuss the lawsuit.

"We do not comment on our business practices with the studios," said Regal spokesman Dick Westerling.

"The Passion of the Christ" is No. 7 on the all-time domestic box-office charts after taking in $369.9 million.