Feature Films by LDS/Mormon Filmmakers and Actors
Weekend Box Office Report (U.S. Domestic Box Office Gross)

Weekend of April 26, 2002

[If table lines up improperly, use mono-spaced font, i.e. Courier]

Natl  Film Title                Weekend Gross
Rank  LDS/Mormon Filmmaker/Star   Total Gross Theaters Days
---  ----------------------------- -----------  -----  ----
 4   Murder by Numbers               6,362,457  2,663    10
     Ryan Gosling (2nd billed star) 18,362,833
     R.D. Call (6th billed star)

22   We Were Soldiers                  541,858    602    59
     Keri Russell (actress)         76,207,877

27   The Other Side of Heaven          252,202    197   136
     Mitch Davis (writer/director)   4,000,579
     John H. Groberg (author/character)
     Gerald Molen, John Garbett (producers)
     Steven Ramirez (film editor)

31   Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure 170,784      25   444
     Scott Swofford (producer)     10,920,768
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)
     Sam Cardon (composer)
     Stephen L. Johnson (film editor)

61   Ocean's Eleven                     39,212     45   143
     LDS characters: Malloy twins  183,405,771

67   The Singles Ward                   30,448     14    87
     Kurt Hale (writer/director)       584,607
     John E. Moyer (writer)
     Dave Hunter (producer)
     Cody Hale (composer)
     Ryan Little (cinematographer)
     Wynn Hougaard (film editor)
     Actors: Will Swenson, Connie Young,
        Daryn Tufts, Kirby Heyborne,
        Michael Birkeland, Robert Swenson,
        Lincoln Hoppe, Gretchen Whalley,
        Sedra Santos, etc.

77   Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man   15,055      4   724
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)   13,232,617

79   Galapagos                          12,425      6   913
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)   12,633,529

95   China: The Panda Adventure          5,232      4   276
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)    2,251,061

112  Mark Twain's America 3D             4,228      1  1396
     Alan Williams (composer)        2,203,394

113  Mulholland Drive                    3,575      5   203
     Joyce Eliason (producer/writer) 7,217,058

KIETH MERRILL SPEAKS: Academy Award-winning filmmaker Kieth Merrill delivered the keynote address at the annual LDS Artists Retreat (sponsored by the Mormon Arts Foundation), held in California on 12 April 2002. The text of his address was published by MERIDIAN MAGAZINE at:

During his address, Kieth Merrill mentioned sculptor Bertel Thorvoldsen, Michelangelo, actor Leonardo DiCaprio, filmmaker Richard Dutcher, writer/director Mitch Davis, producer John Garbett,, composer Thomas C. Baggaley, the Nauvoo Temple, Joseph Smith, producer Saul Zaentz, director Milos Foreman, composer Antonio Salieri, actor F. Murray Abraham, Mozart, Beethoven, Tom Clancy, Harold Prince, John Williams, Thomas Kinkade, Steven Spielberg, painter James Christensen, sculptor Dennis Smith, Deseret Book C.E.O. Sheri Dew, songwriter Michael McLean, actor Jimmy Stewart, producer/director Gary Cook, cinematographer Scott Swofford, cinematographer T.C. Christensen, composer Merrill Jensen, composer Sam Cardon, film editor Jerry Stayner, President Hinckley, President Faust, and Martin Harris. He mentioned a number of films by name: Amazon; Titanic; God's Army; The Other Side of Heaven; The Singles Ward; The Blair Witch Project; Amadeus; Mr. Krueger's Christmas; The Testaments Of One Fold And One Shepherd; Gladiator. He also quotes filmmakers Frank Capra, Orson Welles, John Lyde and Jerry Molen, as well as poet Robert Frost, apostle Bruce R. McConkie, Elder Holland, Aristotle, President Spencer W. Kimball, President Brigham Young, Ruskin and Elder Neal A. Maxwell.

DUTCHER'S 'PROPHET' CAST: The lead roles for Richard Dutcher's "The Prophet" have been cast. Of course, it was reported a few weeks ago that Latter-day Saint actress and BYU student Erin Chambers (the star of Disney's "Don't Look Under the Bed") will be playing the part of "Emily", a friend of Emma Smith. Canadian actor Duff MacDonald will play Robert Foster, a radical apostate from the Church. The part of Joseph Smith has already been cast. Do we know who it is? Yes, we do. But our lips are sealed. You'll have to wait for Dutcher to release the information officially. Hints? Well... Let's just say that he has played a similar role before.

L.A. TIMES AND MITCH: The Los Angeles Times ran an excellent, in depth article about recent and upcoming Christian-themed feature films. The article includes extensive quotes from Mitch Davis about his movie "The Other Side of Heaven", and about Christian filmmaking in general. The article also discusses the recently released "Joshua" (produced by a Presbyterian, based on a book by a Catholic). Richard Dutcher's "God's Army" and "Brigham City" are also mentioned, as are Warner Bros.' $40-million-grossing "A Walk to Remember", and critical flops by Evangelical filmmakers, such as "Omega Code", "Left Behind", "Carman: The Champion" and "Extreme Days." The article can be found at:

WHERE DOES 'THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN' NOW STAND IN MOVIE HISTORY? With its nationwide opening a few weeks ago "The Other Side of Heaven" surpassed "God's Army" as the box office leader among "LDS Cinema" films -- movies made by and about Latter-day Saints. But where does it stand among ALL movies about Latter-day Saint main characters, including movies made by non-LDS filmmakers? According to our data, "The Other Side of Heaven" is the 2nd highest grossing movie in which one of the lead characters is openly a Latter-day Saint. It trails only behind the musical "Paint Your Wagon", which was released in 1969 and earned $14.5 million (made with a $20 million budget). That movie took a light-hearted look at Mormon settlements in the West and polygamy. The female lead (played by Jean Seberg) was a long-time Latter-day Saint, and (if I recall correctly) the male leads (Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood) join the Church at the end of the movie.

Unfortunately, I don't know the box office gross "Melvin and Howard" (1980), but it may have been more than $4 million. Mary Steenburgen won an Academy Award for playing Mormon housewife Lynda Dummar in that movie, and Paul Le Mat played the titular Melvin Dummar, also a Mormon. The real life Dummars were Latter-day Saints, but I don't know if the movie addresses that fact or not.

There are a number of other movies which have made more than "The Other Side of Heaven" and featured Latter-day Saints characters, but the characters were not explicitly identified as Latter-day Saints in the movie, or they weren't the lead characters: Steven Soderbergh's "Ocean's Eleven" had a U.S. gross of $183 million, but its two Mormon characters were only two of Ocean's crew of eleven, and were not as prominent as George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts. Barry Levinson's "Rain Man" (U.S. gross $173 million) features a title character BASED ON a real-life Latter-day Saint, but the story itself is fictional, and the onscreen character is not apparently LDS. (Interestingly enough, the movie was produced by a Latter-day Saint--Jerry Molen, who also has an important role onscreen as an actor -- playing the psychiatrist.) In "Deep Impact" (U.S. gross $140 million) the Latter-day Saint astronaut from Utah ("Dr. Oren Monash") is only maybe the 7th most important character -- and is not explicitly identified onscreen as a Latter-day Saint character. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (U.S. gross $102 million) is, of course, about a real-life Mormon, but the movie portrays Butch Cassidy (played by Paul Newman) only after he was no longer active in the Church, and his Church affiliation is never mentioned in the movie. Likewise, Mario Van Peebles's biopic "Panther", about Eldridge Cleaver, does not address the famous Black Panther's later membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Mormon characters in "Donnie Brasco" and "One Night at McCool's" were major characters, but not lead characters.

So while there have been a number of movies with Mormon characters which have earned more than "The Other Side of Heaven," it appears that only one movie that is really, explicitly about Mormons has out-earned it. And that movie -- "Paint Your Wagon" -- used Latter-day Saints largely for comic effect and as a plot device.

MOLEN OUTDOES HIMSELF: Just one more bit of "Other Side of Heaven" trivia. Now that "Heaven" has topped $4 million at the U.S. box office, it is no longer Jerry Molen's LEAST successful feature film. Molen's film's have been among the biggest in the world: movies like "Jurassic Park", "Last World", "Twister", "Rain Man", "Schindler's List" and "Hook." Big box office. No one expects "Heaven" to enter the rarified stratosphere of his top-earning films. But this week it surpassed his least-earning theatrical release: "The Trigger Effect" (1996), which grossed "just" $3,608,238. (Actually, Molen was was the executive producer on "The Trigger Effect," so "Heaven" remains the lowest-earning movie on which he was the above-the-line PRODUCER.) Next up for Molen: "Minority Report", opening this summer, helmed by Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Cruise. Molen is the first-billed producer on "Minority Report." Its box office take will probably pass by "The Other Side of Heaven" by breakfast time on opening day. Of course, with an $80 million price tag, "Minority Report" had better sell more tickets than Molen's $7 million indie.

NELEH WATCH: The Salt Lake Tribune ran a fascinating article about Neleh Dennis, the Latter-day Saint competitor on "Survivor: Marquesas." By a wide margin, Neleh is the most popular competitor on the show, according to the show's official web polls, and based on the flurry of online activity supporting her.

In the latest episode, Neleh continued her stay on the island, emerging as one of the key power players among the island's remaining contestants (although doing so in a very quiet, behind the scenes, and completely nice way). Tammy the Crime Reporter (from Mesa, AZ -- but not LDS), was clearly marked for banishment this week, because after last week's ouster of John, she was the most aggressive and duplicitous player left. But she won immunity for a second week in a row, and Zoe the sea captain from Maine got the boot.

Now there are only seven castaways left, and Neleh is still sitting pretty. Unless allegiances shift radically (and there is no sign that they will), Tammy and Robert ("the General") will be the next to go, leaving Neleh one of five left (out of the original 16), along with Paschal, Sean, Vecepia and Kathy.