NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
DVD sales of Mel Gibson's blockbuster "The Passion of the Christ" topped 4 million after one day, the film's distribution company reported Wednesday.
Although the film's sales of 4.1 million copies trails the one-day sales record of 8 million by "Finding Nemo," it's a significant number considering "The Passion" is rated R and has sub-titles, said Scott Hettrick, editor-in-chief of DVD Exclusive.
"It's really a reflection of what happened at the box office," he added.
As was the case for its theatrical release, robust retail interest in home video versions of the blood-drenched film about the last hours in the life of Jesus appears to be driven by enthusiasm in the Christian market.
Another significant detail about sales of "The Passion" is that consumers are buying 1.8 copies on average, which is a first according to Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Fox spokesman Steve Feldstein said that sales by midday Tuesday had topped the studio's initial retail shipment goal by 20 percent.
Hettrick predicted that consumer DVD sales of "Passion" would ultimately reach the vicinity of 15 million to 18 million copies, generating as much as $400 million in receipts.
Intense media attention and a heavy Christian turnout helped propel the controversial film to $610 million in ticket sales worldwide, including more than $370 million in North America, making it the year's third-highest-grossing movie behind "Shrek 2" and "Spider-Man 2."
Feldstein said much of the promotional campaign for DVD sales of "Passion," like its theatrical release, has been aimed at Christian audiences.
The News Corp.-owned studio sent out information about the home video launch to more than 260,000 churches nationwide and e-mailed promotional materials to more than 6 million targeted households, he said.
Analysts said the film's popularity among church-going consumers could even propel sales of digital video disc players to viewers who had yet to convert from VHS cassettes to DVD. Seeking to cash in on that potential, many retail merchants are selling "Passion" DVDs alongside DVD players, Hettrick said.
-- Reuters contributed to this story.