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

Weekend of September 13, 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
---  ----------------------------- -----------  -----  ----
7    City by the Sea (NEW)           4,862,445   2575    10
     Eliza Dushku (actress)         16,654,735

17   Possession                        773,532    619    31
     Neil LaBute (director)          9,088,016
     Aaron Eckhart (lead male actor)

20   Master of Disguise                460,890    687    45
     Perry Andelin Blake (director) 38,792,609

28   Minority Report                   220,683    243    87
     Gerald Molen (producer)       131,320,567

41   The Divine Secrets of the          98,298    160   101
     Ya-Ya Sisterhood               69,347,585

49   The Singles Ward                   50,296     29   227
     Kurt Hale (writer/director)     1,136,236
     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,
        Wally Joyner, Lincoln Hoppe,
        Sedra Santos, etc.

60   ESPN's Ultimate X                  25,380     29   129
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)    4,127,098

69   Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man   19,225      8   864
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)   13,970,534

89   The Believer                        7,195      2   122
     Ryan Gosling (lead actor)         355,216

92   Galapagos                           6,353      4  1053
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)   13,698,640

94   China: The Panda Adventure          5,783      5   416
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)    2,841,134

91   The Other Side of Heaven            4,617      5   269
     Mitch Davis (writer/director)   4,694,311
     John H. Groberg (author/character)
     Gerald Molen, John Garbett (producers)
     Steven Ramirez (film editor)

102  Little Secrets                      4,180     12    24
     Blair Treu (director/producer)    401,245
     Brian Sullivan (cinematographer)
     Sam Cardon (composer)
     Jerry Stayner (film editor)
     Actors: Jan Broberg Felt, Rick Macy,
        Tayva Patch, Caitlin E.J. Meyer, etc.

113  Ziggy Stardust & Spiders from Mars  1,405      2    68
     Mick Ronson (2nd billed actor)    104,125

HANDCART: The producers of the Latter-day Saint-themed feature film "Handcart" have announced events related to the upcoming release of the movie throughout Utah on October 1st. There will be a premiere on the night of October 10 at the Scera Theater. There will also be: a Question and Answer Session with the director and others at the Ragan Theater at UVSC October 9; Television spots during General Conference; Trailers playing in theaters.

DeVORE BOOK OF MORMON FILM RETOOLED: Meridian Magazine has a new article on the Steven DeVore, Peter Johnson, Reed Smoot, Quinn Coleman, and Scott Swofford project to produce Book of Mormon-based feature films. The project was first reported in April 2001, when it was planned as an IMAX film titled "Safe Passage." Little has been heard about it since then. The title of the first film has been changed to "Journey to the Promised Land," which is only incrementally better than the monumentally un-exciting-sounding "Safe Passage." The film is no longer planned as an IMAX film, but as a regular theatrically-released feature film. "A Voice From The Dust" is the name for the proposed series of films. The Meridian Magazine article, headlined "Elite Team of LDS Film Makers to Produce Epic Book of Mormon Story for Big Screen Release", is at:

THE SINGLES WARD OPENED IN CALIFORNIA, over the weekend taking in over $50,000 nationwide at the box office, bringing its cumulative gross to $1,136,236. This means that Michael Birkeland is now officially a bigger movie star than Jewel. (But Jewel has sold more records.)

CHARLY SCREENS FOR PRESS: Tom Baggaley, our co-webmaster, is attending a press screening of "Jack Weyland's Charly" tonight. We'll let you know what you thinks.

NEW POLL: "Jack Weyland's CHARLY" opens across Utah and southern Idaho on September 27th (less than two weeks away!!!!). Care to guess how it will do at the box office? Head over to and vote in our new online poll question. If you want, you can even take your shot at guessing an exact box office total... Come closest, and win a free "Spirit of the Sabbath" CD from film composer Tom Baggaley. But you have to vote in the poll (and/or send in your box office prediction) BEFORE the movie opens on September 27th.

NEW CARD FILMS: Geoffrey Card, the author of the novelization of Richard Dutcher's "God's Army," and the cinematographer for the short film "Remind Me Again" (released earlier in 2002), has recently worked as the Director of Photography for the DJD Entertainment Productions "A Foot in the Door", which filmed during Summer 2002. Card also made the short film "Fork" earlier this year. Geoffrey Card is also the screenwriter of a number of as-yet unproduced films, including "Dogwalker," based on a science fiction story by Orson Scott Card, a fan of Geoffrey's work. "Dogwalker" is currently optioned by Girlie Girl Productions, to be directed by Paul Kobelja, produced by Liz Owen, and produced jointly with Fresco Pictures, although when or if this will ever happen is anybody's guess. Check out the Girlie Girl website for more information, and the original story:

KIETH MERRILL GOES NATIVE ONCE AGAIN: Here's an interesting article about a Kieth Merrill film in the works, although it doesn't appear that production has begun yet. The planned film project is a feature film biopic about the famed Native American Sakakawea (i.e., "Sacagawea"), who led Lewis and Clark to the Pacific Ocean:

SINGLES WARD COMES HOME: "The Singles Ward" will be released on DVD and video on October 11th. This is the movie that the Fresno Bee called "fun, lighthearted and interesting." L.A. Weekly recommended it, saying it is like "a high-end John Hughes comedy, a kind of Elder Bueller's Time Out... [a] small gem." William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said, "with its surrealism and dating-angst humor, it otherwise could be a John Cusack movie. There's no conversion effort, much of the writing is genuinely witty and both stars are appealing enough to probably have a good shot at a Hollywood career, if they want one." Wannabe feminist Megan Capehart advised: "be sure to bring along your Mormon-to-English dictionary" (Las Vegas City Life). An online description of the DVD reads: "This funny, touching, romantic comedy focuses on the single life of a group of young Latter-day Saints. It shows that being LDS and single can be as funny as it is unique. Audiences will laugh as they are reminded of the defining moments that make up single life for young Mormons. This movie, hilarious at times, will leave you smiling and talking all night long. Anyone who is or ever has been an LDS Single will thoroughly LOVE this movie! There are numerous cameo appearances throughout the movie by Steve Young, Coach La Vell Edwards and Coach Ron McBride, Shawn Bradley, Danny Ainge, Gordon Jump, Wally Joyner, Thurl Bailey, Richard Dutcher, and Utah's own Ruth Hale. This DVD has many special features that aren't offered on the VHS tape. The DVD has music videos, outtakes, interactive dating games, and other LDS movie trailers... among other things! You'll be glad you got the DVD." One of the outlets taking pre-orders is

"OUT OF STEP"-RELATED BOOKS, CD HIT STORES: Catalogs from indepenent LDS booksellers (such as Moon's LDS Bookstore in Dallas) are arriving in customer's mailboxes this week. Included in the catalog are "Out of Step"-related products that should arrive in stores within the next two weeks. "Out of Step", the novel, is the novelization of the Latter-day Saint-themed feature film now in theaters. The novel is by Nikki Anne Schmutz, one of the writers of the film. ALSO, a completely unrelated novel by Nikki Anne Schmutz is coming to stores, titled _Found_, described in the catalog thus:

"The story of a runaway teen girl who sets about a train of events that leads her and others to a truth that can only be revealed by divine intervention. A warm and richly written first novel..."

And finally, the "Out of Step" soundtrack should be in stores within a few weeks. This should be a really exciting, unusual soundtrack. Some of the film's music was written by actor Jeremy Elliott. Merrill B. Jenson wrote the score. The film also features music by some of the top LDS artists and Canadian artists working today, including Alex Boye, John McVey, Jericho Road and Moxie Tonic. I have no idea why this soundtrack wasn't released earlier.

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5 NEW INDEPENDENT LDS DVDs: The new independent LDS bookstore catalog arriving in customers' mailboxes this week features 5 new DVDs from Latter-day Saint directors.

John Lyde's feature-length dramatic film "The Field is White" -- about Latter-day Saint missionaries -- was released on video early this year. It now gets the DVD treatment, with director's commentary, a trailer, bloopers, and a bonus short film, Lyde's "Turn Here", which was screened at last year's Young LDS Film Festival, and is based on a true story originally published in the Ensign, written by Richard A. Dove. I enjoyed the film on video and I can't wait to hear the DVD commentary.

"Turning Point" is the title of a new DVD from director Martin Andersen. It not only includes his inspiration film "Turning Point", it also includes his films "Reach for the Stars" and "Follow Your Heart." Andersen's films are motivational and inspirational, but broadly applicable, without references to any one denomination or religion.

Two separate DVDs featuring films by director/cinematographer T.C. Christensen are available. "Touch of the Master's Hand" features Christensen's adaptation of the popular same-titled poem about a violin auction which is a parable about Jesus Christ and the Atonement. The 20-minute film features a director's commentary and notes.

"The Mouths of Babes & Sons of Babes" brings to DVD Christensen's 1996 film featuring illuminating and often funny off-the-cuff, unscripted comments by Latter-day Saint children. The DVD includes director's commentary, notes, and 6 minutes of never-before seen footage.

The films on these four DVDs have been available previously on video. But the fifth new DVD (being released simultaneously on video) is entirely new, and is easily the most surprising of the new releases. "When Men Hurt" comes from Greggory Peck's Bristone Films -- the same producers who made "Christmas Mission" (1998) and "Only Once" (1998). These two previous films featured top-notch production values and excellent performances by actors who already had national reputations or have since established themselves in successful careers, including Corbin Allred (Juding Amy; Boston Public; Dharma & Greg; C.S.I.), Jacque Gray ("God's Army"), Austin O'Brien ("The Last Action Hero"), Britt Leary and David Jensen. Many people have loved "Christmas Mission" -- I first saw it when a Gospel Doctrine teacher showed it in church. But as a film, it is far surpassed by "Only Once", which is one of the best independently-made films ever relased as a direct-to-video film in the LDS market.

But all that refers to Bristone's PREVIOUS films. I have NOT seen "Men Hurt" and have no idea what it's like, although I'm sure the production values are very high. And one thing can be said for this video/DVD... It's tackling extremely unusual territory. The description in the catalog reads:

Bristone Films and Club CTR Inc. (Christmas Mission and Only Once) team up to offer the first in a series of programs directed toward empowering victims and perpetrators of abuse and violence. "When Men Hurt" illustrates overcoming cruel behavior from a perpetrator's perspective. hear three men's poignant stories and learn from leading experts the answers to everything from why people abuse to how to break generational chains of suffering. This show is a spiritual, emotional and educational ride. It is a first step and one of many solutions to a problem recently addressed explicitly by President Gordon B. Hinckley.
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FEATURE FILMS FOR FAMILIES PROMO TRAILER: This is very interesting... a glimpse at the man behind the curtain. There's a QuickTime video promo featuring Forest S. Baker III now on the Feature Films For Families website:

Little Soap Box time, ignore the following or read on at your risk:

While on the topic of Feature Films For Families... Let me just say that sometimes the name of this company conjures up a pretty negative reaction among some local film industry commentators, and that's simply unfounded. This is a company that has produced literally dozens of films, and distributes many more. The quality of these films is wildly uneven, some are admittedly mediocre, but some are among the best films that have been produced locally. Also, the company has NEVER masked its intent to provide family-oriented films which feature positive values. It has never produced films which it asked to be compared directly to art films or Hollywood blockbusters, and rarely has it screened its films in commercial theaters. Finally, many of the same people who working on the most acclaimed, high-profile films to come out of Utah are the same people who got their start, or continue to work on, Feature Films For Families projects -- including actors, directors, producers, etc.

Two unfair criticisms leveled against the company are that they care only about money, or that they care only about reflecting high ethical/moral values in their films, and they don't care about the artistry in the films. This is simply not true. Like all film production companies, they are concerned with the financial as well as artistic aspects of their productions. And, more so than most Hollywood-based companies, they are also concerned about the ethical/moral values reflected in their productions. If this stance automatically indicts them in some people's eyes, so be it. But they have have never pretended otherwise.

If you've seen an FFFF video and thought, "This really stinks," you're probably right. There is some lousy stuff out there. But there's also some very good stuff, with high production values, excellent performances, top-notch cinematography, etc. I have found there is much that is commendable -- artistically as well as ethically -- in many of the productions, even those which were CLEARLY operating under significant budget and content/message-oriented constraints.

I wouldn't want to persuade anybody to change their opinion about anything FFFF has done. But I think it is inaccurate to make blanket statements about FFFF movies when, in truth, they reflect a wide range of quality and individual merit.