Spanish distributor Aurum has nabbed all local rights to Mel Gibson's controversial The Passion Of Christ.

The film will premiere in Spain on April 2. Despite the widespread use of dubbing in Spain, it will be released according to Gibson's wishes in original version with subtitles to highlight the original use of Latin and Aramaic in the film.

No one was available Friday afternoon at Aurum to comment on the terms of the deal, or the potential of the film in this Catholic country. A press statement released by the Madrid-based distributor calls it "one of the films to inspire the most discussion in recent years."

Aurum is the local distributor of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, each entry of which has earned around Euros 30m at the Spanish box office. The third chapter, still on a massive 513 screens in Spain in its fourth week, had cumulated Euros 28m as of January 11.

Directed, co-written and produced by Gibson, The Passion stars Jim Caviezel and Monica Bellucci in a tale of the last 12 hours in the life of Christ freely inspired by the Gospels of St. Luke, John, Mark and Matthew as well as the diaries of Anne Catherine Emmerich.

In the US, Mel Gibson's Icon Productions., partnered with Newmarket Films, is preparing to roll out The Passion on 2,000 screens on Feb. 25, Ash Wednesday.

Eagle Pictures recently acquired rights to the film for Italy.