Mel Gibson's biblical epic The Passion is being tipped for box-office failure - because it's too violent.

The movie, which charts the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus Christ, has already caused a storm of controversy ahead of it's 2004 release, with critics deriding Gibson's decision to shoot the film in ancient language Aramaic, and religious groups who questioned Gibson's interpretation of the subject matter.

But it seems The Passion's lack of subtitles and it's storyline are the least of Gibson's worries - according to sources, the film will flop because of its "violent and graphic nature".

According to a friend of the movie maker, scenes sure to shock include a "horrific depiction of the crucifixion - worse than the graphic scenes in (Gibson's OSCAR-winning film) BRAVEHEART".

According to American gossip site THE SCOOP, Gibson has held several small private screenings - including subtitles he intends to remove from the finished version - for a select group of clerics, and is taking advice only from them.

The pal tells The Scoop, "Mel is making notes and small changes on the advice of the bishops and rabbis who have seen it, in order that he can assure accuracy.

"Mel won't listen to anybody on this. We are hoping he keeps the subtitles in, or there really is no chance for the movie. No one will go see it, especially if they can't understand it. His friends are working on him but so far, nothing can get through to him."

But Gibson's friend is quick to dismiss early fears the film would paint an ant-Semitic picture, "In the movie (as in the New Testament), the Romans killed Jesus, not the Jews. It is in no way anti-Semitic."

16/07/2003 21:11