The Passion, a two-hour original musical pageant about the final hours of Jesus Christ on Earth, got "solid" but unspectacular ratings in its premiere broadcast March 20, according to Variety.
The broadcast averaged a 1.6 rating/5 share in adults 18-49, drawing a total of 6.6 million viewers overall, according to preliminary national estimates. That was far short of the 4.3/13 in 18-49 and 12.21 million total viewers attracted by Fox-TV's previous musical special, the Jan. 31 production of Grease Live.
However, The Passion improved substantially on Fox's regularly scheduled Sunday evening programming in that time period, a comedy block led by The Simpsons and Family Guy.
The Passion followed roughly the same time period as another musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, from the Last Supper through Jesus' betrayal by Judas, the trial before Roman governor Pontius Pilate, the crucifixion and the resurrection.
Telenovela’s Jencarlos Canela starred as Jesus, comic actor Tyler Perry served as host and narrator, Grammy-winning singer-songwrighter Seal played Pontius Pilate, American Idol contestant Chris Daughtry played Judas, Latin musician Prince Royce played the apostle Peter and country singer Trisha Yearwood played Jesus’ mother, Mary.
Perry recently completed a national tour of his stage comedy Madea on the Run.
Watch the trailer here:
The broadcast took place Palm Sunday, one week before Easter, which coincides with the time period of the story.
The show was performed in various locations around New Orleans and included “a procession of hundreds of people carrying a 20-foot, illuminated cross from Champion Square outside the Superdome to the live stage at Woldenburg Park on the banks of the Mississippi River,” according to production notes.
The special had a script by Peter Barsocchini (High School Musical), and the score included a variety of pop music, arranged by executive producer Adam Anders (Glee, Rock of Ages). The project was based on a European production created in the Netherlands by Jacco Doornbos of Eye2Eye Media that has been performed and broadcast annually since 2011. The American version was co-produced by dick clark productions, Eye2Eye Media and Anders Media Inc. No writers were credited. The adaptation is listed as having been overseen by two religious media companies, Christian public broadcaster Evangelische Omroep and Roman Catholic public broadcaster Rooms-Katholiek Kerkgenootschap.
Netflix bought the rights to broadcast The Passion outside the U.S., which it will begin doing March 22.