The violent, bloody portrayal of Jesus' final hours was too much for the 56-year-old Peggy Scott in Kansas, whose untimely death stopped the film on Wednesday.
The Wichita woman was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital and the county coroner's office said an autopsy would be performed.
Many others emerged from the morning showing visibly shaken by a film that at times they found extremely difficult to watch.
Like a number of people who saw the movie at New York's Union Square cinema, Carlene Morrow was moved to tears by its long and sometimes brutal depiction of crucifixion.
"I found it hard not to cry out at times, but it had to be like that. It had to be as horrible as possible, because that's how it was."
Despite it being a working day, an almost packed theatre groaned and winced at the graphic images of Roman guards flogging Jesus and driving nails through his hands.
Most of those who gave their comments after the movie mentioned the level of violence but, with a few exceptions, felt it was artistically justified.
Many were clearly regular churchgoers and some sported a daubed sign of the cross on their foreheads, having attended special Ash Wednesday masses earlier in the day.
Morrow's husband John said the reports that the film carried an anti-Jewish message had been exaggerated.
Some US citizens protested before
the film was shown publicly
"I didn't see that at all," he said. "It didn't say the Jews are to blame … the beatings by the Romans didn't make the film anti-Roman."
However Rabbi Avi Weiss, president of Amcha, who also saw the Wednesday morning screening was much more critical.
"I care deeply about Jewish-Christian relations," he said. "This is a tremendous, tremendous setback. It is this lie, the lie that Jews were responsible for the murder of Jesus, which planted the seeds of the Holocaust."
The film carries an R-rating, meaning that any children must be accompanied by an adult. Everyone questioned as to whether "The Passion" might be suitable for children replied in the negative.
"I don't know. It might be okay for a 17 or 18 year old," said Gene. "In terms of gore, there's probably nothing that an older teenager hasn't seen already."