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

Weekend of November 15, 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
---  ----------------------------- -----------  -----  ----
 3   The Santa Clause 2             15,102,078  3,346    17
     Ken Daurio (screenwriter)      82,517,083
     Cinco Paul (screenwriter)

10   Sweet Home Alabama              2,233,774   1469    52
     C. Jay Cox (screenwriter)     121,886,286

13   Punch-Drunk Love                1,210,367    867    38
     LDS actors/characters:         16,500,392
         David Stevens,
         Nathan Stevens,
         Michael D. Stevens,
         Jim Smooth Stevens
           (James Smooth)

47   Master of Disguise                 59,829    104   108
     Perry Andelin Blake (director) 40,322,713

62   Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure   19,283     10   647
     Scott Swofford (producer)      13,626,401
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)
     Sam Cardon (composer)
     Stephen L. Johnson (film editor)

64   Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man   18,820      5   927
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)   14,320,097

68   Jack Weyland's Charly              13,449     13    52
     Adam Anderegg (director)          503,441
     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.

77   Galapagos                           8,181      5  1116
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)   13,819,334

84   China: The Panda Adventure          4,662      6   479
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)    2,946,240

108  ESPN's Ultimate X                     748      3   192
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)    4,196,623

110  The Other Side of Heaven              408      1   339
     Mitch Davis (writer/director)   4,719,533
     John H. Groberg (author/character)
     Gerald Molen, John Garbett (producers)
     Steven Ramirez (film editor)

HARRY POTTER TAKES THE DOUGH - Well, it was a given that "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" would come in at number one this weekend. The only question was how much would it take in its first weekend? (over $88 million) No one else was even close to that number. Still, "The Santa Clause 2" co-written by Latter-day Saint screenwriters Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul, took in a respectable $15 million, landing the #3 spot for the weekend. To demonstrate Potter's dominance in the box office, after 17 days in the theaters, SC2, which can still be considered a successful blockbuster so far this holiday season has taken in $82.5 million total - $5.5 million less than what Harry Potter took in after just three days. Still "Chamber of Secrets" did not outperform its predecessor, since "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" took in over $90 million in its first weekend. An early indicator that SC2 has "legs" is that in its third weekend it is still playing in 3,346 theaters - a drop of only six theaters from last weekend, and only four screens less than its opening weekend. Meanwhile, "I Spy", which opened the same weekend in a comparable number of theaters, has already dropped to 2,611 theaters and fell to the #8 spot this weekend.

TRY THE OTHER SIDE (AGAIN) - "The Other Side of Heaven" returned once again to the box office report this week, playing in a single theater and grossing $408. No word has been released yet about the long-awaited release of this film on video and DVD.

LDS FILM FESTIVAL WINNERS - Announcement of winners from the official festival website at

AND THE WINNERS ARE... With over 30 exceptional events and an attendance of 1500, the 2ND LDS FILM FESTIVAL was a big success. Thank you for coming and participating! We are already looking forward to next year's 3RD LDS FILM FESTIVAL 2003.


Honorable Mention:
Brandon Dayton - "Coney Island"
Hubbel Palmer/Tim Skousen - "Rainbows With a Great Circumference"
Hubbel Palmer/Tim Skousen - "?"

3rd Place and $ 50:
Mary Christenson Aagard - "Washington County Fair"

2nd Place and $ 150:
Cameron Hopkin - "Mary's Cross"

1st Place and $ 400:
Barrett Hilton - "Car Keys"


Honorable Mention:
Christian Lambert - "You Can't Just Change...Can You"
Jarond Suman - "The Jacket"
Tyree Pini - "Redemption for Five Cents"
Spencer Arntsen - "Mara"
Jacen Brewer - "The Bond Between Brothers"

1st Place (shared) and $ 200/each:
Tim Skousen - "Why I Hate Myself"
Christopher S. Clark - "Outward In"


Honorable Mention:
Andrew Black - "Avernus"
Susan Teh - "500 N 600 W & Beyond"
Jared Hess - "Peluca"
Christopher Rawson - "I Will Weep No More"
Andrew Black - "The Snell Show" 

Audience Choice Awards:
Spanky Ward - "Number 9"
Chet Thomas - "Simplicity"
Susan Teh - "500 N 600 W & Beyond" 

3rd Place and $ 100:
Bryan Lefler - "Warplay" 

2nd Place and $ 300:
Tyler Measom - "Fall of Man" 

1st Place and $ 1000:
Winner Lightbox Award
Chet Thomas - "Simplicity" 

The following films were selected for the "Best of 2002" programs: 

Program I:
Matthew Janzen - "Funky Town"
Jared Hess - "Peluca"
Andrew Black - "The Snell Show"
Susan Teh - "500 N 600 W & Beyond"
Jason Conforto - "Cursed Is the Ground"
Tim Skousen - "Next Door"
Cole Webley - "Goodbye"
Andrew Black - "Avernus"
Bryan Lefler - "Barren Earth" 

Program II:
Bryan Lefler - "Warplay"
Jerusha Hess - "Streamers"
Keith Paugh - "Variations on a Theme"
Branden Morris - "Every 15 Minutes"
Christopher Rawson - "I Will Weep No More"
Tyler Measom - "Fall of Man"
Spanky Ward - "Number 9"
Jason Faller - "The Ivy Exchange"
Chet Thomas - "Simplicity" 

The winners of the Feature Screenplay Competition will be announced in about 14 days. The total prize money awarded to screenwriters and filmmakers this year is $3000.00. We would like to thank all the filmmakers and volunteers for their great work! We are looking forward to an exciting next year! Hope to see you and your films there!


THOMAS ADDS - As a judge this year, I was very impressed. There were some very strong and very creative films this year. It made for some very difficult choices for the judges. The future of Latter-day Saint filmmakers looks very promising.

ADD ECLIPSE - Here is a truly awesome report of the Eclipse Film Festival, written by Adam Mast. The report includes reviews of films by Latter-day Saint filmmakers: Eric Hendershot's new "Clubhouse Detectives" feature, "Roots and Wings" by Christian Vuissa and Maria Perez, "Simplicity" by Chet Thomas and Darrin Fletcher, and "Summer House" starring Michael Buster (of "God's Army" and "Out of Step" fame):

REMEMBERING JAMES COBURN - James Coburn, best remembered by Latter-day Saint film historians for his starring role as Porter Rockwell in the 1995 TNT movie "The Avenging Angel," died Monday at age 74 of a heart attack. In "The Avenging Angel", Coburn's co-star was Tom Berenger, who played a fictional Latter-day Saint bodyguard alongside Coburn's portrayal of the historic folk hero/bodyguard to the prophets Porter Rockwell. Screen legend Charlton Heston had a smaller role as Brigham Young. "The Avenging Angel" features a surprisingly well-balanced and sympathetic portrayal of Latter-day Saints, considering the fact that the filmmakers were not Latter-day Saints and the film is set in a somewhat wild and occasionally violent Western milieau. Film buffs also remember Coburn for his roles in "The Magnificent Seven" and "Our Man Flint." He won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1998 for his role in "Affliction."

HANDCART TO REACH REXBURG - "Handcart", Kels Goodman's historical feature film about the Martin handcart company, will open in Rexburg, Idaho (home of BYU-Idaho) this Friday, Nov. 22nd. The movie goes to other states (California, Arizona, Texas, etc.) in the new year.

RELEASES OF LDS-THEMED FEATURE FILMS DOUBLING EVERY YEAR - This is merely an interesting observation... In 2000 just 1 LDS-themed feature film was released: "God's Army." Then in 2001 this doubled to 2: "Brigham City" and "The Other Side of Heaven". In 2002, the number again doubled, to 4: "The Singles Ward", "Out of Step", "Jack Weyland's Charly" and "Handcart." In 2003, all signs indicate that the number should double again, to at least 8: "The R.M", "The Work and the Story", "Suddenly Unexpected," "Day of Defense", "The Legend of Johnny Lingo" (same target market, although technically the characters aren't Latter-day Saints), Gary Rogers' Book of Mormon movie, "The Best Two Years of My Life", and probably one or two more -- perhaps "American Grace" or "Anxiously Engaged." So... if the number of LDS-themed feature films doubles every year, and the total number of movies released remains constant... By the year 2012 ALL movies released in the United States will be LDS-themed feature films. Daily Variety will merge with, "Entertainment Tonight" will be broadcast from the Conference Center, Johnny Biscuit will be hosting the Academy Awards, and Steven Soderbergh will be begging Dave Hunter for the chance to direct "Church Ball 3." It will be pure movie Nirvana.

A LENGTHY LITTLE PIECE ON BILLY BARTY - This is very exciting. There is a lengthy, in-depth article about Billy Barty in Meridian Magazine. Barty is one of history's most influential Latter-day Saint film personality. To this day he remains the most important Little Person in the history of film and television. He was also an important civil rights advocate and the founder of Little People of America. A devout convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he was a high priest when he died. Barty was an above-the-line star in feature films that grossed $100 million domestically, and appeared in dozens of other movies in small roles, but he may have been even better known as a TV personality. Our sincere thanks go to Meridian Magazine for this excellent article, which will help Church members become more familiar with Barty, who truly was a giant of a man. The article is at:

ROCCO'S FLY BOYS SHOULD ROCK! - Here is a short article, with some great stunt flying photos, about the new movie "Fly Boys", being directed by ROCCO DeVILLIERS (!!!). Rocco previously directed the direct-to-video film "Only Once," which can be found in Latter-day Saint Christian bookstores everywhere. Rocco also directed the feature-length action film "Pure Race." Interestingly enough, Greggory Peck, the PRODUCER of "Only Once" spoke last week at the LDS Film Festival. Rocco is an awesome director and we can't wait to see "Fly Boys." We tried to bring attention to this director's work beginning over 2 years go. We're glad to see him at the helm of a new feature.

FASCINATING NEW INTERVIEW ON LDSFILM.COM - We don't wish to embarrass the man, because Jaanus Silla seems very humble. In all my interactions with him, he has never brought up his own history-making past. Not only did he literally live through and take part in the revolution that freed Estonia from Communist rule, he also became the 5th convert baptized in his country, and the first full-time missionary from the Soviet Union to serve abroad. But I only learned about these things after doing research. He doesn't bring them up... Silla is very forward-looking and isn't interested in resting on his laurels. He talks about his filmmaking and his goals for the future. See the interview on our web site at:

DON'T FORGET FORGOTTEN VOYAGE - Scott Tiffany, award-winning documentary filmmaker, screened his latest documentary, "Forgotten Voyage," as the opening film at this year's LDS Film Festival in Provo, Utah. This documentary, which tells of the Latter-day Saint sea trek started the California gold rush, won Best Documentary at the Salt Lake Film Festival 2002. And the film took top honors at the Yellowstone Film Festival a few weeks ago by receiving the "Grand Geyser Award." We've seen the film, and it is a well-produced documentary, well deserving of the awards and accolades it has received. "Forgotten Voyage" is available on video in Latter-day Saint bookstores and online.

HOW THEY MADE THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN - [Excel Entertainment Press Release] The Other Side of Heaven would like to announce an exciting new book meant for anyone who enjoyed the movie. The book, from Vantage Point Press, is entitled Journey of Faith: The Making of The Other Side of Heaven. This unique and visually rich volume goes beyond the typical making-of book to share a deeper, more personal view of the filmmaking process as described in the words of the filmmakers, themselves.

Experience the exciting and tender moments of life on the set with page after page of behind-the-scenes photos of the cast and crew and colorful images of the exotic island locations. Take your own spiritual journey as you enjoy actual excerpts from John Groberg's own letters and mission journal. Anyone who loved The Other Side of Heaven will want their own copy of Journey of Faith today! Now available in Latter-day Saint bookstores everywhere!

LIAHONA FILMS, IS A NEWLY FORMED PRODUCTION COMPANY BASED IN... NEW JERSEY?!? - There's a short film by Jeff Profitt titled "The Suitcase" which you can download: Yes, it was filmed in NEW JERSEY!

LEAVING BOUNTIFUL - A new TV movie was shown last week in Canada about a Mormon splinter group in British Columbia. "Leaving Bountiful" (Saturday, Global 7 p.m.) was based on the true story of Debbie Palmer. Bountiful is a community in British Columbia where members of a group that split from the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the 19th century practice polygamy. Palmer was a plural wife but when and had multiple husbands, but when she realized that her third husband has designs on her 13-year-old daughter, she filed a complaint with the RCMP, set fire to her house in Bountiful and fled with her children. A newspaper review in The Globe and Mail noted: "The program takes an unusual approach. It takes the viewer through Debbie Palmer's life as she has lived it and through her self-propelled re-education. It isn't lurid. It's sympathetic to Palmer and her once-strong belief in her Church and its laws."

LATTER DAYS - "Latter Days" is the directorial debut of "Sweet Home Alabama" screenwriter C. Jay Cox: GLBT party boy/waiter (Wesley Ramsey of "Guiding Light") makes a bet he can seduce a Latter-day Saint missionary (Steve Sandvoss), but falls in love with him; Joseph Gordon-Levitt ("Treasure Planet") plays the pivotal role of Ryder, the missionary companion who discovers the romance. The movie was filed over eight days in November 2002 in Los Angeles and is slated for a 2003 release. Kirkland Tibbels is producing the movie through his production company, Funny Boy Films. The new company was formed to independently develop, produce, and finance GLBT films and to support the work of GLBT filmmakers.

* * *

SPEAKING OF MOVIES ABOUT THE SCRIPTURES - Recent announcements for two different Book of Mormon movies has given us reason to pause and contemplate some fun facts: The very first feature-length film EVER filmed in the United States was... Well, it wasn't from the Bible. It was Dickens' _Oliver Twist_. But the SECOND feature film ever made in the U.S. was indeed an ambitious attempt to bring the life of Jesus to the big screen. Third American feature film... Shakespeare (no surprise there). Then we've got the first-ever of many versions of "Cleopatra." Number 5 was "Lieutenant Petrosino" (?). Wasn't until the sixth-ever American feature-film that the industry made an LDS-themed movie: "One Hundred Years of Mormonism", featuring Brigham Young's grandson playing the part of Brigham Young. Of course, this wasn't about the Book of Mormon, it was about the pioneers and Utah and Joseph Smith and, well, the title is pretty self-explanatory.

You have to fast-forward 28 years to get to the first recorded independent feature film based on the Book of Mormon (Lester Park's 1931 "Corianton"). After the financial and popular failure of "Corianton" not much happened for decades, until the Church itself made institutional, instructional short films, sometimes depicting scenes from the Book of Mormon. The biggest independent Book of Mormon filmmaking venture to date has been headed by director Richard Rich, with the approximately one dozen half-hour animated films featuring stories from the Book of Mormon. The screenwriter for these was Orson Scott Card, who is, coincidentally, the grandson of Lester Park.

But an independent, live-action feature film based on the Book of Mormon remains largely unmade. A major attempt was mounted by producer Cary Derbidge and writer/director J. Daniel Nell, when they filmed "The Stripling Warriors" in Kaysville, Utah in June of 1999. When the partially-filmed project wasn't completed, the property reverted to Nell, who still has plans to re-tool and finish a version of the project trimmed in length to just two hours. But this project is essentially on hold. If Gary Rogers succeeds in completing a feature film about the Book of Mormon by his planned target date it will be about the twelfth Latter-day Saint-themed feature film since the advent of "God's Army." - Or will it?

Interestingly enough, the subject matter of any film about the Book of Mormon presents a slight semantic problem to anybody who uses the term "LDS-themed feature film." The Book of Mormon actually has no Latter-day Saints in it. It has no Mormons, either. And there are no known characters named "Mormon" until the very end... certainly none in 1st and 2nd Nephi, which would be the source of the first such films in a projected series. So, technically, such a project might have to categorized as a "Jewish-themed feature film," in which case we would have to classify it with "Fiddler on the Roof", "The Ten Commandments" and "Blazing Saddles", rather than with "God's Army" and "The Singles Ward."

Summary - First Feature Films Made in the United States:

May 1912
Oliver Twist
(5 reels)
H. A. Spanuth

Oct 1912
>From the Manger to the Cross
(6 reels)
Karem Co.

Oct 1912
Richard III
(4 reels)
Sterling Camera & Film Co.

Nov 1912
(6 reels)
Helen Gardner Picture Plays

Nov 1912
The Adventures of Lieutenant Petrosino
Feature Photoplay Co.

Feb 1913
One Hundred Years of Mormonism
(6 reels)
Utah Moving Picture Co.; Ellay Co.