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

Weekend of November 8, 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   The Santa Clause 2             24,734,523  3,352    10
     Ken Daurio (screenwriter)      60,038,513
     Cinco Paul (screenwriter)

 7   Sweet Home Alabama              3,810,839   2004    45
     C. Jay Cox (screenwriter)     118,548,539

11   Punch-Drunk Love                2,501,670  1,293    31
     LDS actors/characters:         14,513,079
         David Stevens,
         Nathan Stevens,
         Michael D. Stevens,
         Jim Smooth Stevens
           (James Smooth)

40   Master of Disguise                 85,104    116   101
     Perry Andelin Blake (director) 40,245,712

58   City by the Sea                    32,070     94    66
     Eliza Dushku (actress)         22,433,915

64   Jack Weyland's Charly              24,807     21    45
     Adam Anderegg (director)          477,631
     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.

67   Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man   19,840      5   920
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)   14,292,559

71   Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure   14,454     11   640
     Scott Swofford (producer)      13,587,642
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)
     Sam Cardon (composer)
     Stephen L. Johnson (film editor)

79   Galapagos                           9,615      5  1109
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)   13,806,856

90   China: The Panda Adventure          4,161      4   472
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)    2,935,286

95   Handcart                            2,662      3    31
     Kels Goodman (director/DP)         63,624
     David Greenslaw Sapp (producer)
     Mark von Bowers (screenwriter)
     Eric M. Hanson (composer)
     Joel Petrie (film editor)
     Actors: Jaelan Petrie, Stephanie Albach
        Chris Kendrick, Shannon Skinner,
        Gretchen Condie

100  ESPN's Ultimate X                   1,701      5   185
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)    4,195,710

104  Ziggy Stardust & Spiders from Mars  1,042      3   124
     Mick Ronson (2nd billed actor)    121,244

HOLIDAY BLOCKBUSTER SEASON - Last weekend's release of "The Santa Clause 2" and "The Spy" marked the beginning of the holiday blockbuster season in theaters. What this means for Latter-day Saint-themed films is that independent features have a much harder time finding theaters to play in, and it shows in our box office report for this weekend, as Latter-day Saint-themed feature films largely dropped (at least temporarily) from the radar. Expect some to return with stronger numbers once the season has passed.

For example, if you live in Utah and you've been planning to see "Handcart" again before it leaves the big screen, you may want to hurry. Since "Handcart" opened one month ago, it has left most theaters, but it has been continually at the Scera Theater in Orem. But its last day at the Scera is Nov. 14th, this coming Thursday. It is also currently playing at Fiddler 6 in Cedar City, UT and Blue Mountain Cinema in Monticello, UT. Note that in January "Handcart" will open in Arizona, California, and other states.

LDS FILM FESTIVAL TO BEGIN TOMORROW (NOVEMBER 13) - The 2ND LDS FILM FESTIVAL 2002 will take place this week Wednesday through Saturday, November 13-16, at the historic Provo City Library. The program for the festival is now finalized. For admissions information go to:

The following filmmaker's presentations have been added to the schedule: Spanish director Jose Maria Oliveira ("The Dead, the Devil and the Flesh"), documentary filmmakers Matt Whitaker and Rick McFarland ("Saints at War," "Truth and Treason: The Helmuth Huebner Story"), producer Greggory Peck ("Christmas Mission," "Cowboys and Angels") and distributor Linda Thomson ("Saturday Warriors", "Out of Step"). Other participating filmmakers are: Kurt Hale and Dave Hunter ("Singles Ward," "The RM"), Adam Anderegg and Micah Merrill ("Charly"), Lee B. Groberg ("American Prophet," "Sacred Stone: The Temple at Nauvoo"), Dean Hale (Distributor of "God's Army," "The Other Side of Heaven"), Gary Rogers ("Book of Mormon Movie") and Nathan Smith Jones ("The Work and the Story"). Four competition programs including the Female Filmmakers program plus the 24-hour filmmaking marathon will be screened Wednesday through Friday at 5.00 and 7.30 p.m. The "Best of 2002" program will be shown on Saturday at 5.00 and 7.30 p.m. A script reading of the winning short screenplays has also been added on Saturday, November 16, at 3.00 p.m. Screenplay judge Eric Samuelsen will lead the discussion. Musical guests are Fiddlesticks (Thursday night), Dave Eaton and Ambiguous Sun (Friday night) and Stephanie Smith (Saturday night). For a detailed outline of the complete festival program go to

SPECIAL PLUG FOR OLIVIERA - We were especially thrilled to see Spanish director Jose Maria Oliveira on the schedule for the LDS Film Festival. Here's a man who featured LDS missionaries and gospel values in very successful films nearly 30 years before the advent of "God's Army," yet few people have heard of him. In addition to his pioneering work as a filmmaker, he was also the first convert to the Church in Spain and the nation's first stake president. His is a fascinating story, and if at all possible, you shouldn't miss the opportunity to hear him.

NATIONAL INTEREST IN LDS FILMMAKING? An Associated Press (AP) reporter recently interviewed Latter-day Saint feature filmmakers Richard Dutcher and Kurt Hale, Salt Lake Tribune movie reviewer Sean P. Means, and co-webmaster Thomas C. Baggaley (a film composer) for an article about Latter-day Saint-themed feature films. The resulting article appeared in the Sunday Daily Herald and nationwide distribution is expected. You can read it at:

SCREEN YOUR FILMS - Works From Along the Wasatch Front: Anyone can show their short film or video at the Utah Film and Video Center (UFVC). The roster of films for each month's screening is filled based on whichever films are submitted first. Each screening features a number of worthwhile films as well as a number of films that are a complete waste of celluloid, all from Salt Lake City-area filmmakers. If you're looking for a free opportunity to screen your short film before an audience of film-lovers, check it out. For more information, see

ECLIPSE FILM FESTIVAL WINNERS - The Eclipse Film Festival, one of the finest film festivals held in Utah each year, took place in St. George on Nov. 9 and 10. The 29 films which were selected as finalists, from a much larger pool of entries, came from all over the world. The winners, announced at the festival late Saturday night, were:

(USA) Short Drama
Director/Writer: Shlomo Buchler

Christian Vuissa "Roots & Wings"
(USA) Short Drama

Jim Orr "Soledad"
(USA) Short Drama

(USA) Short Drama
Director: Chet Thomas
Producers: Darrin Fletcher, Brain Hennessy, Chet Thomas, Rob Verdery

"Roots & Wings"
(USA) Short Drama
Director/Writer: Maria Perez

Reggie Willis "Soledad"
(USA) Short Drama

(USA) Short Drama
Director: Robert Noll
Producer: Robin Noll

"Bug Beat"
(USA) Short Animation
Filmmaker: Tim Hynes

"Roots & Wings" depicts a Mexican immigrant family in which the father struggles as members of his family adopt American ways and Latter-day Saint faith. The film previously won major awards (including the Audience Award, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor) at BYU's Final Cut film festival. It has also won awards in national film festivals. Christian Vuissa, who won the Best Director award at Eclipse, is the founder of the LDS Film Festival, which will be held this coming week in Provo, Utah. A special screening of "Roots & Wings" will be featured at the LDS Film Festival, but the film, of course, is not in competition. Screenwriter, Maria Perez, a Latter-day Saint convert of Mexican background, drew on her own background in writing this sensitive, award-winning screenplay.

The Best Editing award went to "Simplicity", a short film directed by Chet Thomas and produced and written by Chet Thomas' filmmaking partner Darren Fletcher. These Latter-day Saint filmmakers, residents of Utah, have created a number of other short films, including "A Kiss Remembered" and "Shear." Other producers of "Simplicity" were Chet Thomas, Brain Hennessy and Rob Verdery. Last year the Best Editing Award went to BYU student Krisi Church, for "Shattered." This film, as well as another short film by Church, will be shown in this year's LDS Film Festival, coming up beginning tomorrow (November 13) in Provo, Utah. Church is one of the most exciting, original young filmmakers in Utah, and is much sought after as a film editor. Next year's festival is scheduled for November 14th and 15th (2003).

The judges at the Eclipse Film Festival this year were:
Chris Hicks - Deseret News Feature Editor
Rocco DeVilliers - Producer/Director
Philippe Denham - Producer/Director
Jennifer Buster - Casting Agent
T.C. Christensen - Cinematographer


FREE CHARLY SCREENING AT UCLA - Melnitz Movies and the UCLA Producers Association are presenting the Los Angeles premier of CHARLY produced by LDS filmmaker Lance Williams. The special screening will occur November 13th, 2002 at 7:30 p.m. and will be followed by a special question and answer session. Those interested in attending should send an e-mail to If you go, definitely take a date along, whether it's your spouse, a girl/boyfriend or just someone you'd like to get to know better. This is a great date movie!

MERRILL ON LDS FILM - Academy Award-winning director Kieth Merrill (1 Oscar, 2 nominations) weighs in on the state of the LDS film scene, in a new article published by Meridian Magazine. We are grateful to acknowledge Merrill's kind mention of, as he did much of his research for the article on our site. The article can be found here:

MERRILL IN 3D IN 2004 - New article about Keith Merrill and the new 3D IMAX theater at Thanksgiving Point (in Lehi, Utah), and Merrill's upcoming 3D IMAX documentary "Dinosaurs Face to Face", slated for 2004 release at the Point. See

UTAH FILMMAKERS MEET, EAT, TALK ABOUT INTERESTING ISSUES - The 2nd Utah Film Industry Luncheon, sponsored by the Utah Film Commission, took place today (November 13th) at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center. The theme for the luncheon was "Commercial Production". Guest speaker Matt Miller, President and CEO of the Association of Independent Commercial Producers, spoke on a variety of issues, from runaway production and competing in a global economy to the new "BMW films" and the career opportunities that are becoming available as the once immutable lines between different kinds of production (from commercials to feature films) begin to blur. One of the more interesting and important points that Miller made is that it is important for filmmakers and production companies in the United States to develop a stronger sense of community and to work together to find creative ways to compete in the worldwide entertainment economy. The Utah Film Commission has stated that they intend to continue to hold these industry events on a quarterly basis. Interested parties should contact the Utah Film Commission at 801-741-4540.

HUNTER ON OUT OF STEP, THE SOUNDTRACK - The "Out of Step" soundtrack CD is NOW in stores. VERY, VERY eclectic. A friend in my ward in Dallas who is a big-time music producer listened to it, thought it sounded great, and commented that its styles are really all over the map. There's jazz, folk, R&B, classical, and no-holds-barred rock. Alex Boye, Kriya, Sunfall Festival, even a song by the movie's star, Jeremy Elliott (also the star of "Charly"). Plus a lot of underscore tracks by Merrill Jenson. (Yes, THE Merrill Jenson, the megahuge music composer himself -- he did the score for this "little", but critically acclaimed, film.)

The "Out of Step" novelization is also in stores right now. I've read it and really enjoyed it. Seriously needed a decent A.P. English student to go through it and fix some typos and minor editing problems. But this is a very fun, interesting read. In many ways this is also the most daring story out of all the Latter-day Saint-themd feature films. This is a VERY realistic, highly grounded story about one young Latter-day Saint student's struggles and romance in New York City. Everything in the movie is in there, plus a lot of background material that wasn't in the movie. This is a must-read for any serious fan of the "Out of Step" feature film. Speaking of which... We'll be able to tell you SOON when the DVD will be released, AND we should be able to tell you soon what the box office gross was. Stay tuned.

ALSO IN STORES, SONGS FROM SEMINARY VIDEOS - Seminary's Greatest Songs brings together the very best from over 25 years. From "The Olive Tree" and "For Our Day" to "Like Unto Us" and "Joseph" these songs reach across generations, helping us understand and remember important gospel truths -- Christ and His atoning sacrifice, The Prophet Joseph Smith and the Restoration, The Book of Mormon, temples, the worth of souls, and more. A feast of inspiring, testimony-strengthening music for all ages. Tracks Include: I've Got to Find Out Who I Am; For Our Day; Like Unto Us; Come Unto Him; The Olive Tree; I Have It, Why Not Share It; My Soul Hungered; Joseph; That We May Know; Our Fathers Plan; Strength Beyond My Own; Going Home; I Want to Be Loved; I'll Build You A Rainbow.

HICKS MENTIONS T.C. CHRISTENSEN - Well, you heard about them weeks ago from us, but in case you missed it, Chris Hicks mentions T.C. Christensen's new DVDs:,1249,440014849,00.html By coincidence, Hunter recently watched Christensen's "Touch of the Master's Hand" on video. His comments: This is an old video. But it really holds up. Fine, fine piece of filmmaking. Powerful and beautifully shot. It's only about 20 minutes long, and makes a perfect video family home evening activity. But, purely as a work of artistic filmmaking, regardless of spiritual considerations, I highly recommend this film. You might have it at home, on the Family Home Evening videos the Church released years ago, although, obviously, only the DVD will have the director's commentary.

AMY REDFORD IN LABUTE'S "THE SHAPE OF THINGS" - Amy Redford, daughter of actor/director Robert Redford and Latter-day Saint documentary filmmaker Lola Van Wagenen, is starring on stage in the lead role as Evelyn in Neil LaBute's "The Shape of Things", extended to Nov. 9 at CanStage's Berkeley Street Theatre. (Van Wagenen and Redford were married for 21 years.) In an interview with The Star (Toronto), Amy Redford notes: "I was raised in downtown New York and in Utah," she recalls. "I need Utah. I like spending a lot of time alone; I need solitude or I get batty... My parents are very grounded; they made sure we were treated like normal children. Neither of them came from privilege and they were not interested in having kids they didn't want to be around." [FURTHER QUOTING FROM THE ARTICLE:] Her father visited her in Toronto last weekend. Both parents make a ritual of seeing all her shows: She's appeared in The Messenger off Broadway in New York, co-starring with Hollywood brat Troy Garity, son of Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden; Hand Of God; Measure For Measure; Macbeth; Baby With The Bathwater; and Golden Ladder, where she was scouted for Shape. She's also played a doctor in Sopranos and guested on Sex And The City as Amy, a woman married to a guy smitten with Charlotte (Kristin Davis' character)... Her mom, she points out, is as much a role model as Dad. Van Wagenen went back to school when Redford was in grade school to get her Ph.D. from NYU with a dissertation on the suffragette movement. Mom was also exec producer of the doc "There She Is: A History of Miss America." ...She admits to being a diehard Neil LaBute fan. "He blows my mind. He is so unafraid to show the infrastructure of human beings. I think it's wrong that people call him misogynistic; I'd much rather play such a complex character."

BOBA FETT AND JANGO FETT STAR IN "JOHNNY LINGO" - Part of a longer press release: "Film goers will recognize Temuera Morrison and Daniel Logan, the actors who portrayed Jango and Boba Fett, respectively, in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. But on the whole, the film will feature Polynesian actors unknown to most Americans."

ROGERS BOOK OF MORMON FILM PRESS RELEASE - The Salt Lake Hilton Hotel was the site of an open casting call for actors wanting to appear in "The Book of Mormon Movie." "Literally hundreds of people turned out," said Gary Rogers, the film's writer, producer and director. "At one point we couldn't even move, it was so crowded!" Rogers said he found several people that simply "blew me away," with their acting talent. "We're looking for unknown actors that can act as well as any actor in the world," said Rogers. "We need to find extraordinary actors that can bring the characters to "life" in a totally believable manner.

"This is a very unique motion picture," stated Rogers. "It has a "built-in" audience of nearly 12 million people. However, most of those people have already seen the "movie" several times in their minds. Our biggest challenge will be to produce a motion picture that will touch the audience and meet their expectations, and the actors will play a critical role in meeting that goal," say's Rogers. The producer is now getting hundreds of calls and e-mails from actors all over the world that want to audition. "For a very limited time we are going to accept auditions on videotape," said Rogers. Casting details can be found on the movie's website at

"The response we are getting is simply overwhelming," said Rogers. "Most people are telling us they have waited all their lives to see this movie. We have a group in Portugal that wants to see the movie in their own language so much, they are willing to pay the cost of dubbing the movie in Portuguese!"

BYU FILM NEWS - Final Cut 2002 DVDs are available to students for a $5 donation to the Dean's discretionary fund. Donations will be matched 5 times by outside donors. Your $5 becomes $30! Come see the TMA Office in D-581 HFAC.

AMIDST THE GATEWAY - "Amidst the Gateway," a 42-min. dramatic film by Christopher S. Clark and Patrick H.Parker, will premiere at the LDS Film Festival (Nov. 13-16). The website for the film is: There is a VERY fine-looking trailer for it.

TRUTH AND TREASON - "Truth and Treason: The Helmuth Hubener Story" - Produced by Rick McFarland and Matt Whitaker; Written and directed by Matt Whitaker. Distributed by Covenant. "Truth and Treason" is the remarkable true story of Helmuth Hubener, a young LDS German, and his heroic actions against Hitler's Nazi regime. Using arhicval footage and still-photography as well as new film footage shot on location in Germany, this film takes an unprecedented in-depth look at a compelling and complex story. Available in November - Video $19.95, DVD $24.95. Available through Deseret Book.

SUMMER OF THE NEPHITES (AND SOME AREN'T) - A "Summer of the Nephites" movie update from Chris Heimerdinger's newsletter: [QUOTING HEIMERDINGER FROM HIS NEWSLETTER:] Yup, I've gone out and shot the opening sequence for the movie. The idea was to raise money for the project, so I decided to take the opening scene (which I thought was rather cool), cast it, shoot it on 35mm film, edit it, do most of the advanced post production (including music and special effects [Editor's Note: co-webmaster Thomas C. Baggaley will be writing the music for this opening scene]) and then use to show investors. The scene takes place in a dark and scary section of woods and features three hunters. I played one of the hunters, to save money of course. :^) We ended up shooting near Duchesne, Utah with a professional cast and crew. It was an intense, rigorous, and nerve-wracking two days, but we got 'er done, and I've already started editing on it. When it's done, I think it will turn out to be a great opener. Yes, and eventually it will probably be on the Secret Spectacle.

So what's "Summer of the Nephites" about, you might ask? Well . . . it's about NEPHITES! Can I get away with that for now? I don't want to spoil it before I even finish writing it. But just know that it's completely different from my "Tennis Shoes" books--new concept, new characters--but still a fun fantasy of mingling past and present. It will first come out as a book next summer or fall. Then, if all goes according to ambition, it will be on the big screen in the spring of 2004. Between now and then we just need a few miracles. I think they'll happen.

ALMOST PERFECT - Prolific film composer Merrill Jenson and famed playwright/lyricist Douglas C. Stewart (who wrote "Saturday's Warrior") have teamed up, with a new musical called "Almost Perfect", which just finished its run at UVSC this past Saturday. Actor and playwright James Arrington directed. If you want to see this one, you'll have to get someone else to perform it, since the run at UVSC is over.

THE WORK AND THE STORY IS FUNNY - co-webmaster Thomas C. Baggaley got a sneak look at a rough cut of "The Work and the Story" this weekend. His thoughts coming away from the film? "It's destined for greatness" - okay, if you've seen one of the earlier trailers for the film, you probably laughed at that joke. (If not, you'll get it when you see the film. Sorry - it's no longer on the site.) Seriously (can we say that word in connection with a comedy?) this is going to be a very funny film, especially for people who just love film in general. It is a different film -- very different from any of the previous contributions to Mormon Cinema and probably different than anything most LDS theater-goers have ever seen. But we think that once audiences adjust to the interesting mockumentary format of the film, they'll find themselves laughing -- a lot. Besides, you have to laugh at just the concept that you can make a film that mocks a genre when that genre is only a few years old as it is.

Baggaley adds one last thought (paraphrasing that early trailer once again): "This film is going to have some awesome music. I don't want to sound -- what's the word -- cocky? -- but they have a composer working on this film that ... well, he's destined for greatness..."

Hunter: Tom just saw "The Work and the Story" rough cut and I can tell that the experience has addled his brain. He wrote this "news item", but in doing so he quotes and paraphrases the movie and its trailer. I know what he's talking about because I've seen the old trailer. But it's no longer online, and most of you probably haven't seen it, so you would have no idea why he said some of what he said.

This whole "destined for greatness" line... That's how the movie's main character (played by the writer/director, Nathan Smith Jones) refers to himself in the movie. One of the funny things about the movie is that Jones' character is a real *******, although, of course, the word ******* is never used in the movie. Jones' filmmaker character lives in a world unto himself without realizing the extent of his own self-delusion.

"The Work and the Story" features a number of "movies-within-the-movie" which send up popular movie genres, and how they might appear if given the "LDS-themed" treatment. So imagine a Mormon housewife/director's LDS-themed action/martial arts film. That kind of thing. And Tom forgot to mention that the movie's other main character is played by Richard Dutcher. Dutcher also contributed significantly to the plot.

Tom is one of the composers for "The Work and the Story," but I'm not working on the movie, and let me tell you straight out that after I met with the Nathan Smith Jones I can't even think about this movie without smiling because I think it is going to be hilarious. In my guise as "" I hype a LOT of stuff. I don't lie to you. I don't say I like something if I don't. But usually (whether I like something or not), I don't convey my opinion -- I report facts and I pass on whatever the opinions of others or press releases, etc., etc. So having said all that, let me tell you that there are lot of things coming down the pike. I'm looking forward to all or most of them. But at or near the top of the list of what *I* want to see is "The Work and the Story."