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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Sam's Club is selling 50-copy "church packs" of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" to capitalize on the movie's popularity with church goers.
Advance sales for the film's Aug. 31 release on DVD and video cassette already have exceeded expectations for the retailer, the warehouse club division of Wal-Mart Stores, according to The Associated Press.
Typically, specialized companies handle sales of videos to religious groups and stores. But the bulk packaging of "Passion," which has different distributors for the secular and religious markets, fits the Sam's Club strategy, company spokeswoman Jolanda Stewart said. "Focusing on small business is our mission, and that includes churches and religious segments."
Church groups had already shown enthusiasm for the movie when it was released on the big screen in February, even renting theaters for private screenings.
Sam's is selling 50 DVDs in a pack for $898, a rate of $17.96 apiece, and 50 video cassettes for $795, a rate of $15.90 apiece, according to the AP.
Stewart said Sam's Club plans to release other films in church bulk packs, but declined to specify titles.