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'Son of God' Praised for 'First Latin Jesus;' 500,000 Tickets Bought in Advance by Religious Groups

The excitement behind the upcoming "Son of God" movie keeps growing with news that religious groups have bought over 500,000 tickets in advance of the premiere. Producers are marketing the film as the "first Latin Jesus," in reference to Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado.

"There's a high level of Christianity in the Hispanic community, many of whom don't normally go to the movies but want to see 'Son of God,'" said 20th Century Fox's domestic distribution chief, Chris Aronson, according to The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday.

Fox will be delivering 3,000 dual-track digital copies to theaters so that audiences can watch the film in English or Spanish. Producer Mark Burnett has called Morgado "the first Latin Jesus in an English film."

"Son of God" opens in theaters on Feb. 28, and a separate THR report noted that religious groups have picked up close to 500,000 movie tickets in advance.

"We think it's an extraordinary product and for Christianity we think it's an historic moment," Liberty University's senior VP of communications, Johnnie Moore, told THR. "This is the first movie about the life of Jesus in 50 years. It would be beneficial to people all across the country to see this on the big screen."

Liberty, which is the largest Christian university in the nation, brought out an entire Regal multiplex near campus for the movie's showing. Meanwhile, relief group Compassion International reportedly purchased 225,000 tickets for screenings in 40 cities across the country, including L.A., Miami, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia and New York City.

Pastors and Christian leaders throughout the country have been buying out multiplex cinema screens for the "Son of God" showing, and earlier this week it was reported that multiplexes in at least 10 cities nationwide will be playing "Son of God" on all of their screens on the eve of the movie's showing.

"It's very interesting to see this level of excitement around the movie," said James Meredith, VP, head of Marketing & Communications for Cinemark. "We've already scheduled a few large-scale theatre buyouts for 'Son of God' in theatres across the country. The interest level for meetings, events, screenings and buyouts seems to be on par with that of major blockbuster, tentpole or franchise movies."

Burnett additionally told THR that "Son of God" is "designed to be seen in communities."

"Therefore, it's the perfect venue for church groups to band together and watch 'Son of God' in a community. That's what's really happening," he added.

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