Eagle Pictures' head of marketing, Antonio Adinolfi, has spent Euros 2.5m to publicise Mel Gibson's Passion Of The Christ, which is released in Italy today, Wednesday (April 7).

The figure, which is huge compared to the usual marketing budget of Italian indie distributors, has been spent mainly on TV advertisements and outdoor posters.

Eagle benefited from Italy's notoriously lenient ratings board deciding that The Passion could be released in Italy without any kind of restriction, making it the only country where the film has been given a general admission rating.

This means there are no restrictions on TV ads and that the film itself can eventually be broadcast to mass audiences on prime time TV.

According to Adinolfi, the film was released without restrictions in the predominantly Catholic country because Italy only has under-14 and under-18 rating categories, compared to the many variations that exist in other territories. (In the UK The Passion was rated 18 and in the US it received an R rating).

"In Italy everybody, including children, knows what happened to Jesus," Adinolfi explains, suggesting that even the youngest Italians know what to expect from Gibson's film. "Ten-year-olds would be discouraged from seeing the film because it is in Latin and Aramaic with subtitles."