Case | HBS Case Collection | September 2004 (Revised February 2010)

The Passion of the Christ (A)

by John A. Quelch, Anita Elberse and Anna Harrington


Bob Berney, president of Newmarket Films, must decide on a distribution and marketing strategy for Mel Gibson's controversial new movie, The Passion of the Christ. Fueled by Gibson's star power as well as an extensive prescreening campaign among Christian leaders and others representing likely target audiences in the summer of 2003, the religious movie had started to generate publicity in mainstream media. Five months prior to the film's scheduled opening on February 25, 2004, Berney has to choose whether to continue with the prescreening campaign to stimulate further word-of-mouth among core audiences or switch to a mainstream media advertising campaign more commonly used to promote new movies. He also has to determine the appropriate distribution strategy, in particular whether to opt for a wide or limited release and whether to change the timing of the release.

Keywords: Advertising Campaigns; Film Entertainment; Marketing Strategy; Product Launch; Product Positioning; Distribution Channels; Religion; Motion Pictures and Video Industry;


Quelch, John A., Anita Elberse, and Anna Harrington. "The Passion of the Christ (A)." Harvard Business School Case 505-025, September 2004. (Revised February 2010.)