Newmarket Films and Icon Entertainment announced their astonishingfinal numbers yesterday for the first day Wednesday gross of The Passion OfThe Christ - a divine$26,556,573.

The figure, which is the third biggest Wednesday gross of all timeafter The Return Of The King ($34m) and Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace ($28.5m), comes from 3,006 theatres anda total of 4,643 prints.

Newmarket's Bob Berney said that he had every indicationthat the figures would continue to hold and even grow through to Sunday; he anticipatesno significant fall through to the second weekend.

Among some ofthe highpoints were the AMC Willowbrook in Houston, Texas, which took $74,000on Wednesday, the Arclight in Hollywood, California, which took $66,000 and theEmpire in Times Square, New York City, which took $55,000.

"It'sacross-the-board high numbers," explained Berney. "These are phenomenon-typegrosses."