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

Weekend of October 4, 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
---  ----------------------------- -----------  -----  ----
 2   Sweet Home Alabama             21,325,435   3303    10
     C. Jay Cox (screenwriter)      65,334,029

25   City by the Sea                   227,472    425    31
     Eliza Dushku (actress)         22,094,074

39   Master of Disguise                 76,172    220    66
     Perry Andelin Blake (director) 39,516,694

40   Minority Report                    76,032    108   108
     Gerald Molen (producer)       131,839,950

42   Jack Weyland's Charly              64,031     34    10
     Adam Anderegg (director)          160,260
     Jack Weyland (book author)
     Janine Gilbert (screenwriter)
     Lance Williams, Micah Merrill (producers)
     Tip Boxell (co-producer)
     Bengt Jan Jonsson (cinematographer)
     Aaron Merrill (composer)
     Micah Merrill (film editor)
     Actors: Heather Beers, Jeremy Elliott,
        Adam Johnson, Jackie Winterrose Fullmer,
        Diana Dunkley, Gary Neilson, Lisa McCammon,
        Randy King, Bernie Diamond, etc.

45   Possession                         54,042    115    52
     Neil LaBute (director)         10,058,448
     Aaron Eckhart (lead male actor)

52   Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man   36,884      6   885
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)   14,067,812

61   The Divine Secrets of the          25,622     85   122
     Ya-Ya Sisterhood               69,586,544

89   Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure    8,751       8  605
     Scott Swofford (producer)      13,474,586
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)
     Sam Cardon (composer)
     Stephen L. Johnson (film editor)

94   Ziggy Stardust & Spiders from Mars  6,752      1    89
     Mick Ronson (2nd billed actor)    114,187

96   The Singles Ward                    6,243     10   248
     Kurt Hale (writer/director)     1,236,385
     John E. Moyer (writer)
     Dave Hunter (producer)
     Ryan Little (cinematographer)
     Cody Hale (composer)
     Wynn Hougaard (film editor)
     Actors: Will Swenson, Connie Young,
        Daryn Tufts, Kirby Heyborne,
        Michael Birkeland, Robert Swenson,
        Wally Joyner, Lincoln Hoppe,
        Sedra Santos, etc.

98   ESPN's Ultimate X                   6,084      8   150
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)    4,174,041

105  Galapagos                           4,161      4  1074
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)   13,725,083

107  China: The Panda Adventure          4,008      2   437
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)    2,865,391

143  The Other Side of Heaven              533      2   297
     Mitch Davis (writer/director)   4,716,114
     John H. Groberg (author/character)
     Gerald Molen, John Garbett (producers)
     Steven Ramirez (film editor)

146  Mark Twain's America 3D               390      2  1557
     Alan Williams (composer)        2,272,470

JOHNNY LINGO THE MOVIE - John Garbett, the producer of "The Other Side of Heaven" and the original producer of DreamWorks' "Shrek", is currently producing the big screen feature film "The Legend of Johnny Lingo." The Polynesian-themed film wrapped principal photography some time ago, and is currently in post-production. Garbett is the son-in-law of Orma W. Wallengren (a.k.a. Claire Whitaker), who was the screenwriter of the original, classic Church-produced "Johnny Lingo" video. Jerry Molen ("Minority Report", "Jurassic Park", "Schindler's List", etc.) is the other producer of the new "Johnny Lingo" movie. The director is Steven Ramirez, a Latter-day Saint film editor best known for editing "The Other Side of Heaven" (2001). "Johnny Lingo" marks Ramirez' directorial debut. Note that the original Church video adapted only a small portion of the complete Johnny Lingo story.

HANDCART ARRIVAL - The long awaited release of "Handcart" is finally near. Here is a list of events happening preceding the opening of "Handcart":

* COMMERCIALS aired during General Conference after the Sunday Morning session - October 6
* PRESS SCREENING (press only) at the Jordan Commons 10 am - October 8
* Q & A (cast and crew invited as panel) at the UVSC Ragan Theater 12 pm - October 9
* PREMIERE! at the Scera Theater 8 pm - October 10 *TICKETS ON SALE NOW!
* KSL MOVIE SHOW will broadcast live from the Scera Theater from 10 am to 12 pm celebrating the opening of Handcart. Kels will PROBABLY be on the air (if they let him) - Call in October 11 (575-8255)
* HANDCART opens in 18 theaters across Utah and Cardston, Canada - October 11
* HANDCART will expand into Idaho, Arizona and Las Vegas soon after.

Want to know where to go and see the film? Check out for a list of the theaters where it will be opening.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT - is sponsoring a "Guess the Gross" contest for "Handcart" and time is running out. Send your predictions of what will be the reported gross ticket revenue for "Handcart" as of the first weekend box office report in February to before the film hits theaters this Friday. The person who guesses the closest to the actual number will win a free copy of film composer and co-webmaster Thomas C. Baggaley's "Spirit of the Sabbath" CD (which, of course, if you don't want to wait until February to see if you won, you can always purchase at Deseret Book and wherever LDS music is sold). For those who would like to put their two cents in but don't care to compete for such a valuable prize, you can always vote anonymously in our on-line poll at:

HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT THIS CHARLY FILM? - In spite of Conference Weekend, typically a slow one for movies in Utah, "Jack Weyland's Charly" continued its strong performance at the box office as the weekend gross increased nearly 30% over last weekend. The typical trend in Hollywood is that films generally perform best on opening weekend. Subsequent weekend grosses typically decrease by as much as 30-50%. "Jack Weyland's Charly," on the other hand, clearly defied that trend. Distributors attribute the film's performance to strong word of mouth among the audience, primarily among teens and women. Exit surveys have shown that a vast majority of moviegoers who have seen "Charly" would recommend it to their family and friends.

COMPARING POLLS - The "Mormon Life" section of the Deseret Book web site has a poll, started 15 August 2002, asking people to pick the "best LDS major motion picture." 575 people have already voted in the Deseret Book poll, compared to about 135 people who have voted in the web site, which stared 10 April 2002. (By the way, asks votes to pick a "favorite", not "best" film.)

Here are the results from the Deseret Book poll

God's Army               17%
Brigham City              8%
The Other Side of Heaven 59%
The Single's Ward        15%
Out of Step               0%
(575 votes cast)

Here are the results from the poll:

God's Army               14%
Brigham City             23%
The Other Side of Heaven 28%
The Single's Ward        22%
Out of Step               9%
(134 votes cast)

ROOTS AND WINGS - Christian Vuissa's award-winning short film "Roots & Wings" is now available on video from BYU Creative Works and should be on shelves in LDS bookstores soon. It can currently be ordered here: The film has received a Gold Aurora Award 2002 for Best Foreign Language Film and was the Winner of the Performing Art Showcase Award of the Golden Key Int'l Honour Society. It also won 3 awards at the BYU Final Cut film festival (Best Actor, Best Screenplay, Audience Choice Award).

As Hunter has written previously about "Roots and Wings": " is amazing. The extremely realistic and beautifully shot story of a Mexican Catholic immigrant who finds his wife and children becoming distant as they assimilate American ways and Latter-day Saint faith, 'Roots and Wings' is the work of a filmmaker who is obviously destined for great things. Every shot is thoughtfully and meaningfully framed. The acting is so natural and the emotions so raw that the film often seems like a beautifully shot documentary. Vuissa serves up no easy answers or platitudes, he simply serves up a glimpse into a fascinating and thought-provoking story. At only about 25 minutes long, 'Roots and Wings' is more of a film than most anything you could have seen in the multiplex all summer long." BAGGALEY ADDS: I second all that Preston has said. This is truly one of the better short films I have seen. Very, very well done! If you take time to watch ANY film by LDS filmmakers at all, you should check out this one. I look forward to more great things from Christian in the future.

LDS MAORI ENTERTAINER DALVANIUS PRIME DIES - All New Zealand mourned the loss of the nation's leading Maori musician, who died on 3 October 2002. Services were held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which he was a member. Parliament and the country's leading entertainers were effusive about the impact Prime had on them individually and on their country as a whole. Prime was a singer, entertainer, composer, author and social activist. He composed the musical scores for feature films and documentaries, hosted music shows, produced albums, wrote musicals. He was a giant in Maori arts and culture, whose impact is immeasurable.

CORE DELAYED - This is truly sad news for all of us hankering to see Aaron Eckhart in his debut as an action hero in a huge SF blockbuster. "The Core" is being bumped. But the good news is you won't have to choose between "The Core" and "The Santa Claus 2", both of which WERE scheduled to open on the same day.

LONSDALE WORKING ON HAUNTED - Have you seen the ads on TV for the new TV series "Haunted", kind of an "X-Files" show on CBS? The Director of Photography for the series is none other than Gordon C. Lonsdale, a Latter-day Saint and graduate of Brigham Young University. Lonsdale is truly one of the best TV D.P.s in the business these days. His previous series credits include "Providence", "Space: Above and Beyond" and "Northern Exposure." He has also been D.P. for a slew of TV movies and miniseries, including: Anya's Bell (1999); Avalon: Beyond the Abyss (1999); The Last Don (1997); A More Perfect Union: American Becomes A Nation (1989); and The Witching of Ben Wagner (1987).

ECLIPSE ROLL CALL - The roster for the upcoming Eclipse Film Festival in St. George has been announced. The festival will be held November 8th and 9th. This year's festival will host Philippe Denham, film producer from Los Angeles, who will speak on how to successfully produce an independent feature film. Stay tuned for time and locations of this and other festival events. Although it is open to films from all over the world, the festival does feature a number of films by Latter-day Saints in competition. These include Christian Vuissa's short drama about a Mexican-American family "Roots & Wings" torn between the conversion of some of its members to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Rob Allen's award-winning short animated film "Signal Strength"; the short drama "Simplicity" by Chet Thomas and Darrin Fletcher; and "The Summer House", a short comedy starring Michael Buster (star of "God's Army" and "Out of Step"). More information can be found at:, including a complete list of the films for this year's festival.

FIX IT BEFORE YOU SHOOT IT: There are many new subscribers to the mailing list since we first announced Eric Samuelsen's services, so we're mentioning them again. Dr. Samuelsen, BYU theater department professor, is evaluating LDS-themed screenplays for free. He is an award-winning playwright and prolific theatrical director. Many of BYU's most critically acclaimed plays on the main stages were directed by Samuelsen. Eric Samuelsen and his graduate students ARE providing free feedback on a number of screenplays, and they ARE workshopping select screenplays. This means real actors are putting these scripts through the paces before any money is spent on filming. Details about the opportunity can be found here:

SUDDENLY UNEXPECTED PRESS RELEASE from M Potter Productions: M Potter Productions is pleased to announce the beginning of principle photography on its upcoming feature length movie "Suddenly Unexpected". Filming will begin in Houston, Texas on October 7, 2002. The film will be released in the spring of 2003. Jerald Garner of Katy, Texas, and Michael Judd of Sandy, Utah, will be playing the leads, Elder Jones and Elder Smith. Mr. Garner will be the first African American to play a lead in a Mormon Genre film. In a somewhat ironic and humorous twist, Mr. Garner is drawing on his early childhood experiences as a Jehovah Witness. He went door to door with other members of his faith. Although he is no longer active in that faith he can clearly recall the many experiences he had during that time. Jerald's stepfather is a Latter-day Saint and Jerald said he would talk with him for additional input to add further depth to his character. Michael Judd was cast for his ability to bring both humor and compassion to the character of Elder Smith. The two female leads are Clara Susan Morey II of Salt Lake and Junie Hoang of Houston. Ms. Morey is a veteran of numerous Utah theatrical productions and was most recently seen in the movie "Little Secrets" and also has a part in the movie "Charly". Ms. Hoang is a versatile actress based out of Houston. She has been in numerous independent films and television productions. Benjamin Ellis of Orem, Utah also has been cast in a supporting role of Elder Sayers. Mr. Ellis was a host of the LDS show "Center Street". Tucker Dansie, a Utah-based filmmaker, will be the director of photography. For additional information, you can check out their web site:

ADD RADIOACTIVE ZOMBIES - Latter-day Saint filmmaker Joshua D. Smith wrote us to tell us about his new feature film "Zombie Campout", which premiers in a few weeks here in Texas before making going to other festivals... It has a great web site, by the way, which is where you can go to find out more:

ROCCO'S FLY BOYS - Here is a great new article in St. George, Utah newspaper THE SPECTRUM about the movie currently being filmed by Latter-day Saint director Rocco DeVilliers ("Pure Race", "Only Once"). We've been saying for a couple of years now that DeVilliers is one of the most exciting young directors in the state. We're glad that he's finally got a new feature underway. Here's the article:

ESPECIALLY FOR VOYEURS - Top secret entries from Canadian pop singer's own diary, mentioning her supporting role in the upcoming feature film "The R.M.", as well as her music video on the DVD release of "The Singles Ward" (now in stores) can be found at

0F PRINCESSES, PEAS AND PAYNES - The upcoming animated series "The Princess and the Pea Chronicles", from Swan Animation in St. George, Utah, features the voices of Latter-day Saint actor/singer Sam Payne (star of Michael Mills' "He Took My Licking") and Payne's son Skyler Payne. Sam Payne is the son of legendary Utah actor/singer Marvin Payne.

SOMEONE WAS WATCHING? TOTALLY COOL - Mark Goodman and Lee Groberg's new feature-length drama "Someone Was Watching" is available on DVD. This is the same team that made the award-winning PBS documentaries "Trail of Hope: The Story of the Mormon Trail" (1997), "American Prophet: The Joseph Smith Story" (1999) and "Sacred Stone" (Nauvoo Temple documentary). The DVD can be ordered here:

ADD MESSAGE IN A CELL PHONE - "Message in a Cell Phone" is also out on DVD. This one stars Nick Whitaker in the first billed role. You'll remember him from "Brigham City" -- he played Spencer, the deacon. He also starred in T.C. Christensen's "Bug Off!" "Message in a Cell Phone" is a family film directed by Latter-day Saint director Eric Hendershot, whose credits are too numerous to list here, but you can look them up on our site. The DVD can be ordered here here:

TENNIS SHOES ON THE SILVER SCREEN - The following is an excerpt from Chris Heimerdinger's monthly newsletter for October 2002: "SUMMER OF THE NEPHITES" BOOK AND MOVIE UPDATE - Last month I also reported my ambition to write a book that will become a motion picture. I began this project a couple years back, but the pressure to write "Tennis Shoes" books kinda slowed it down. Well, it's now become the main item on my agenda. Interestingly, the first scene (chapter) takes place during the deer hunt. The rest of the story takes place in summer, but I have been toying with the idea of shooting the opening sequence of the movie sometime in Nov. or Dec. We'd then use it to help raise the rest of the capital for the movie, and wet people's appetites with what I think is a killer opening. Only one problem: I need a live deer. Anyone out there know how I can get a hold of a (relatively tame) white-tail or mule buck? Weird question, I know. But hey, what's this web site for if I can't network now and then? We may just wait to shoot the scene in the Spring, but it sure would be fun to shoot it now.

TELLIN' 'BOUT MELLEN - We'd like to introduce people to Vance Mellen, a Latter-day Saint film director with an extremely distinct vision and body of work. I personally saw him perform years ago while I was a BYU student, and it was an experience I never forgot. I was impressed then, and I look forward to seeing more from him. Vance is planning to direct his award-winning screenplay "Revelations." He is still in the process of looking for a producer and additional backing. "Revelations" is an interesting script, and really can't be compared to anything being done by any LDS director I can think of. It's dark, but funny, and definitely affecting. You can check out Mellen's resume, films, and projects he's working on at his web site:

GEOFFREY CARD AT AML - We have learned that filmmaker Geoffrey Card will be a featured speaker at the Association for Mormon Letters Fourth Annual LDS Writers Conference, to be held Saturday, November 2, 2002, at Thanksgiving Gardens Visitors Center at Thanksgiving Point, Lehi, Utah. Card attended Chapman University School of Film and Television. His film credits include screenplays, student films, serving as film editor for the short film "Remind Me Again", and authoring the novelization of Richard Dutcher's movie "God's Army." The other featured speakers will be Latter-day Saint novelists Rachel Ann Nunes, Margaret Blair Young and Lina Paulson Adams.

OUT OF STEP ON DVD? - We don't know if the movie is available yet, but at least one web site is now taking orders for the "Out of Step" DVD. also lists a bunch of other new DVDs from Latter-day Saint directors. The only movies listed below that we've actually seen are "Out of Step" and "Shadow of Light." If you have questions about them, feel free to write and ask.

* Out of Step: Graced with the instinctive ability to dance, Jenny Thomas wants nothing more than to become a professional dancer. All of her hard work pays off when she is accepted to a prominent dance program in New York. Against her mother's will, but with the support of her father Jenny leaves her small Mormon town in Utah and heads to New York in pursuit of her dream. Jenny soon finds herself financially broke and spiritually lost in her new surroundings. She quickly makes friends with Paul Taylor, a witty Mormon student filmmaker who finds Jenny's ambitious dream to be the subject for his next film project. Keeping her mind diligently focused on dance proves harder than she expected as she finds herself falling in love with David Schrader, a dark and mysterious New York musician. As their relationship builds Jenny starts to struggle in her religious beliefs and her new lifestyle. Paul's true romantic feelings soon surface and Jenny finds things to be a little more than she can handle. Her scholarship and her dreams are on the line and Jenny takes an emotional roller coaster ride on the path to work it out. Jenny must fight to earn her scholarship and try to find a balance between the man of her faith and the man of her dreams.

* The Shadow of Light: Follow two brothers, who, with help from the local southern Utah Mormon bishop's daughter, begin to unravel clues that lead to the pages of the Book of Mormon and a treasure worth more than all the riches on Earth.

* Visit Nauvoo: The Saints built beautiful Nauvoo in just seven years. Walk its streets as you visit the beautiful homes of Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young and Wilford Woodruff. Learn more of their faith and sacrifice to build the Kingdom of God. Stroll through the Prophet Joseph's Red Brick Store and the Mansion House where Joseph and Emma often slept on the floor to accommodate their guests. Contemplate the determination of the Saints to build a temple to their God as you see the new Temple rise majestically above the city. Features aerial photography taken spring 2002.

* When Men Hurt: Hear three men's poignant stories and learn from leading experts how to overcome abuse and violence. When Men Hurt illustrates overcoming cruel behavior from a perpetrator's perspective.

* Horse Crazy: When ruthless horse thieves try to rustle a magnificent wild mustang named "The General" it takes the courage of three horse crazy kids to outsmart, out wrangle and out lasso the bad guys and return the horse to his rightful owner.

* Jericho Road: Backstage Pass: When Abe, Bret, Dave and Justin stepped into the music scene last fall as Jericho Road, they couldn't have imagined a more successful debut CD launch and a sell-out promotional tour of the Western United States. Now they return with this striking DVD experience, featuring concert footage, interviews, and picture albums.