...Running out of money [to make his Joseph Smith biopic "The Prophet"], Dutcher recently decided to begin production of "God's Army II," which he actually wrote three years ago. He has a wife and five children to think of...
...Which makes me wonder what Dutcher might do next.
It's a shame his biographical film of Joseph Smith fell apart, but he apparently has a couple of scripts ready to go, and he's on the verge of making a third film fairly quickly. Hopefully, the Joseph Smith project will be resurrected down the road.
...Let's hope that third film comes soon. After all, Dutcher remains the only "name-brand" Mormon filmmaker among the current crop.
Whatever he does next, all eyes inside and outside the Mormon movie industry will be on him.
..."Hopefully I'll be shooting that ["The Prophet"] this coming spring, and we'll be set," he said. "Some people have said ('The Prophet') is on the back burner, but that's not true, it's on the front burner. I have two front burners on my stove, so I can keep it on the front burner. And then, I'm also working on a sequel to 'God's Army' that I hope to shoot within four to five months."
...Since Dutcher's "God's Army" came to theaters in 2000, Mormon filmmakers from near and far have made movies of their own.
"I think that filmmakers will get better and other filmmakers will emerge," Dutcher said.
As for Dutcher, he said he plans to continue to make stories that are from the heart and said he hopes that other Mormon filmmakers will do the same.
"I hope that it becomes more of an art form than just a market," Dutcher said.
Along with his Joseph Smith film in pre-production, Dutcher has written a script for "God's Army 2."
"It will be an exciting story and I'll make that this year as well," Dutcher said.
Dutcher said he hopes audiences will be just as excited about his next film as he is.
"The next film I do had darn well better be pretty good," Dutcher said, "because people have been far from complimentary to me."
...Also coming are Dutcher's "God's Army 2" and "The Prophet," about the life of Joseph Smith; [etc.]...
...Dutcher is currently making a sequel to "God's Army," but he has said that he still hopes to find funding for "The Prophet."
Businessman Larry Miller and Latter-day Saint filmmaker Richard Dutcher made a joint announcement this morning about a couple of up-coming movie projects. They also put to rest their long-rumored rift which put one of these films 'on hold' for more than a year.
Richard Dutcher, Filmmaker: "This year, we're gonna make another run for it. This time, I feel like we're better prepared."
Richard Dutcher burst onto the cinematic scene in the year 2000 with the surprise hit 'God's Army', the movie about Mormon missionaries in East Los Angeles. The film, made for less than half a million dollars, grossed more than $2.6 million at the box office.
One year later "Brigham City" a murder mystery set in a small Utah town, was made for about the same as its predecessor. it grossed just under a million, but this one was hailed by critics across the country. Fundraising came much easier the second time.
The reason, Larry Miller was the key investor. Shortly after a news conference he pulled finances back on the next film out of concern over the box office success of Brigham City. But now Miller is back, first to help complete funding of 'God's Army 2: States of Grace'.
Richard Dutcher: "The film is designed with not only LDS missionaries but there are a few other faiths represented in the film, and represented very positively."
And then Miller is back on track with funding for 'The Prophet: The story of Joseph Smith', which has been on hold for a year and a half because of what he calls a misunderstanding.
Larry H. Miller: "I said to Richard, right out of the shoot, I was wrong on those. That kind of laid the groundwork for us to talk very candidly and openly."
"God's Army 2" will begin shooting in January; "The Prophet" also next year. Preliminary cast includes actors Val Kilmer as Joseph Smith and F. Murray Abraham as Gov. Ford.
Like Simon and Garfunkel, Larry H. Miller and Richard Dutcher are back together.
Miller, the auto dealer and Utah Jazz owner, announced Thursday that he will invest "a significant amount" in the LDS filmmaker's next two movies: "God's Army 2: States of Grace," the sequel to the groundbreaking Mormon Cinema movie "God's Army"; and "The Prophet," an epic biography of LDS Church founder Joseph Smith.
Dutcher "has had good judgment in the past about things to be excited about, so we figured to go along for the ride on this one," Miller said. "I hope for some of the success of 'God's Army,' which is a tall order."
"God's Army," Dutcher's 2000 debut film, ranks as the most profitable LDS-themed movie, parlaying a $300,000 budget into $2.6 million at the box office and sparking other LDS filmmakers to follow Dutcher's lead.
Miller is not Dutcher's only investor, and would not specify how much he is spending on the two movies.
"God's Army 2" -- which follows the LDS missionary Sandoval, a minor character in the first "God's Army" played by Luis Robledo -- will be made for under $1 million, and will start shooting in January.
Dutcher would not specify the budget on "The Prophet," which will start shooting next summer -- and Dutcher hopes to have it in theaters in 2005, the bicentennial of Smith's birth. "The Prophet's" epic scale may make it the most expensive film in Mormon cinema, dwarfing the $7.4 million Miller will spend for a film adaptation of Gerald N. Lund's The Work and the Glory, an epic novelization of the LDS Church's early history.
Dutcher has tentatively lined up much of his cast for "The Prophet," including Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham ("Amadeus") as Thomas Ford, the Illinois governor who confronted Smith in Nauvoo.
The most controversial casting may be the choice of Val Kilmer to play Smith. Kilmer's previous roles include the Caped Crusader in "Batman Forever," rocker Jim Morrison in "The Doors," Tom Cruise's rival in "Top Gun," the voice of Moses in "The Prince of Egypt" and, in the upcoming drama "Wonderland," porn star John Holmes.
The script has excited producers and agents in Hollywood, Dutcher said. "The response that we've gotten . . . is, 'Did this stuff really happen?' " he said, adding the movie may spark interest with non-LDS audiences because "it's a story they haven't heard before."
Thursday's Delta Center news conference came two years after Dutcher and Miller parted company on "The Prophet." Miller has said he stepped away from "The Prophet" because of the disappointing returns of Dutcher's "Brigham City" and Dutcher "jumped the gun" and wanted to start filming in late 2001 before all financing was secured.
"I live in a fast-enough world that it is difficult for me to deal extensively with things that aren't going down a smooth path," Miller said.
After Miller's withdrawal, Dutcher tried last year to get "The Prophet" in production, and came within seven weeks of shooting before financing fell apart.
Dutcher shot down two widespread rumors about "The Prophet": that LDS General Authorities asked Miller to withdraw, and that LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley called Dutcher personally to ask him to abandon the project. "They make good stories, but they sure make it difficult to raise money for a film," Dutcher said.
Miller and Dutcher hooked up again two weeks ago, after Miller's news conference to announce "The Work and the Glory." Dutcher called to complain about two statements Miller made -- that Miller was surprised by Dutcher's April 2001 announcement of "The Prophet" (at a news conference Miller attended), and that Dutcher never sent financial information about the movie's budget. Miller checked his files, and acknowledged Thursday both statements were wrong.
Miller also acknowledged his withdrawal from "The Prophet" hindered Dutcher's fund-raising efforts. "The question came up, 'Why did Larry Miller pull out?' " Miller said. "I could move on from [my decision] in a way he couldn't."
Miller and Dutcher went to lunch last week, and "once we got the air cleared, we got on level ground."
"It takes some real character for him to sit here with me and say he made mistakes," Dutcher said. "I used to refer to Larry as my hero. . . . Sitting down man to man, and the way he handled this, he's my hero again."
Filmmaker Richard Dutcher (left) and Larry Miller at the Delta Center Thursday morning.
Richard Dutcher and Larry Miller are friends again.
Miller is back on board to help finance Dutcher's two new movies -- a sequel to "God's Army," which grossed more than $2.6 million, and "The Prophet," a Dutcher pet project that he has been trying to get going for more than a year. And Dutcher says it may star Val Kilmer and F. Murray Abraham.
In a Thursday press conference, LDS filmmaker Dutcher and Utah Jazz owner/auto dealer Miller announced an extensive moviemaking collaboration. With Miller's financial help, Dutcher will make "God's Army 2: States of Grace," a sequel to "God's Army." Although the second film they made together, "Brigham City," was judged a critical success, it grossed disappointing box office earnings of less than $1 million.
Dutcher said filming on "God's Army 2" will begin in January in Los Angeles and that Luis Robledo, who played the Hispanic missionary in the original film, will reprise his role, this time as the star. His character, whose past is checkered, will be unavoidably pulled into a gang incident.
"The Prophet" is the story of the life of Joseph Smith.
Both Dutcher and Miller declined to divulge the budget figures required for either "God's Army 2" or "The Prophet," which Dutcher will make immediately afterward. "It's not a big secret," said Dutcher, "but it's largely unnecessary information." (However, the budget for "The Prophet" is at least $12 million, according to previous figures given to the Deseret Morning News.)
Only two weeks ago, Miller announced a deal with other LDS filmmakers in which he is providing sole financial support, "The Work and the Glory," to be based on Gerald Lund's multivolume series of LDS historical novels.
Miller said at that press conference that he had became disenchanted with Dutcher and "The Prophet" since it was originally announced a year ago, but he did not officially pull out. When asked what had happened to "The Prophet," Miller gave a lengthy reply. He said he had been surprised when Dutcher announced an earlier timeline than he had planned during an earlier press conference on "Brigham City." He also said that Dutcher had never actually given him a proposal for "The Prophet."
Thursday, Miller apologized for what he had said about both the timeline and the proposal, saying he had checked his daytimer and his files and found that he was wrong. So Miller and Dutcher had a two-hour lunch to discuss their differences -- they "fought," said Dutcher -- but they ended up burying the hatchet.
"I was grossly unfair to Richard on both points and made him look bad. I did not intend to do that. I don't have any harsh feelings about him. I've committed a significant amount of money to this film -- more than I did to 'God's Army 2.' But I needed to clear the air today."
Dutcher was touched by Miller's apology. "It takes some real character for Larry to say he's made mistakes. I always used to say Larry's my hero. Last week I wasn't so sure he was my hero or not. But this week, with the way he has handled this, sitting down man to man to make it right -- he's my hero again."
Dutcher is very excited about "The Prophet," and called it "the Mount Everest of Mormon filmmaking." He has polished the finished screenplay and has most of the funding he needs. In the meantime, he is planning to do "the bulk of the filming" in the summer of 2004 and release it in 2005 -- the bicentennial of Joseph Smith's birth. "It's going to be my birthday present to him," said Dutcher.
Dutcher acknowledged that Columbia University historian Richard Bushman, who is preparing a book-length biography of Smith, is still his historical consultant and that he wants the film to be "historically accurate."
"I want to tell a powerful, amazing story in as close to two hours as I can. He was an exciting and charismatic man with an exciting and violent life, and I haven't seen that portrayed anywhere."
Although the casting is dependent on their schedules, Dutcher said both Kilmer and Abraham have agreed to portray Joseph Smith and Gov. Thomas Ford of Illinois, respectively.
Filmmaker Richard Dutcher, with Larry Miller at his side, announces his upcoming movie "God's Army 2."
Larry H. Miller... avoided the movie business for 20 years, he said, in part because "I don't understand that much about it." Where in most fields a quality product -- a car or a basketball team, for example -- will bring in customers, it doesn't always work that way in movies. Miller said he still can't figure out why "Brigham City," Dutcher's follow-up to "God's Army," received better reviews than "God's Army" but made less money.
In 2000, Miller saw "God's Army," the first of the Mormon Cinema genre, at a critic's screening at his Megaplex 17 at Jordan Commons. "I saw him in the film, then I saw in the credits that he wrote it, produced it and directed it. I thought, well this is a pretty interesting guy," he said. "Then I noticed this guy in a baseball coat, handing out press packets." That's when Miller met Dutcher.
Miller soon hooked up with Dutcher, investing in "Brigham City." On Thursday, Miller announced he will put in "a significant amount" for Dutcher's next two films, "God's Army 2: States of Grace," and Dutcher's dream project, "The Prophet," an epic biography of LDS Church founder Joseph Smith...
...Supporting Dutcher and Lund, a personal friend, was comparatively easy. "With Richard and with Gerry, I'm not just betting on the film content -- I'm betting on the person doing it," Miller said...
Filmmaker Richard Dutcher and Utah Jazz owner Larry H. Miller recently announced the production of "God's Army 2: States of Grace."
Miller will contribute significantly to "Gods Army 2," but will not be the sole investor.
Dutcher and Miller refused to reveal the film's budget but said it is "under $100 million."
Dutcher said he thinks there has been too much emphasis on budget for LDS films and not enough attention to the stories.
"We really do have some wonderful, powerful stories to tell," Dutcher said in a press conference. "I don't think audiences care what a film costs."
"God's Army 2" will focus on the story of Elder Sandoval, the Hispanic missionary in the last film.
Although Dutcher wouldn't reveal too much about the plot, he did say Sandoval (played by Luis Robledo) gets caught up with a street gang. He also mentioned that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would not be the only faith represented.
"We are reaching out and trying to extend our audience," Dutcher said. "I think this film will appeal to religious people of other faiths. I think it's going to be a powerful film."
Filming for "God's Army 2: States of Grace" will begin January in Los Angeles.
Dutcher will be simultaneously working on the film "Joseph Smith: The Prophet," a film also funded by Miller.
"Joseph Smith: The Prophet" is due for release in 2005.
Dutcher said since the release of '"Brigham City," he has been swamped with questions about when the next film will be coming out.
He said it will be good to be able to focus on a production again.
Dutcher smiled and said, "We're funded [for God's Army 2] and ready to go."
A release date for the film has not been announced.
...Dutcher mentioned Kilmer as his Smith two weeks ago, when he announced that his two-year quest to bring Smith's story to film was back on track -- thanks to support from Utah Jazz owner Larry H. Miller. Miller agreed to help finance "The Prophet" and "God's Army 2," the sequel to Dutcher's 2000 hit that launched the Mormon Cinema genre...
...And there will be more from the man credited with starting it all, Richard Dutcher. He begins shooting "God's Army 2" in January and "The Prophet" immediately after.
Richard Dutcher/ Director & Writer, "God's Army 2" & "The Prophet": "F. Murray Abraham is on board,pending schedule and everything else, of course, as Governor Thomas Ford. And Val Kilmer is on board, pending again (edit) to play the part of Joseph Smith."...