Natl Film Title Weekend Gross Rank LDS/Mormon Filmmaker/Star Total Gross Theaters Days --- ----------------------------- ----------- ----- ---- 4 The Santa Clause 2 10,210,369 3,251 24 Ken Daurio (screenwriter) 94,944,099 Cinco Paul (screenwriter) 14 Sweet Home Alabama 1,041,324 952 59 C. Jay Cox (screenwriter) 123,408,235 19 Punch-Drunk Love 422,209 411 45 LDS actors/characters: 17,277,359 David Stevens, Nathan Stevens, Michael D. Stevens, Jim Smooth Stevens (James Smooth) 54 Master of Disguise 27,460 68 115 Perry Andelin Blake (director) 40,363,530 62 Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man 19,372 5 934 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 14,354,676 65 Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure 12,321 8 654 Scott Swofford (producer) 13,651,884 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) Sam Cardon (composer) Stephen L. Johnson (film editor) 70 Galapagos 8,329 4 1123 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 13,832,579 71 Jack Weyland's Charly 8,327 11 59 Adam Anderegg (director) 518,325 Jack Weyland (book author) Janine Gilbert (screenwriter) Lance Williams (producer) Micah Merrill (producer, film editor) Tip Boxell (co-producer) Bengt Jan Jonsson (cinematographer) Aaron Merrill (composer) Actors: Heather Beers, Jeremy Elliott, Adam Johnson, Jackie Winterrose Fullmer, Diana Dunkley, Gary Neilson, Lisa McCammon, Randy King, Bernie Diamond, etc. 83 China: The Panda Adventure 2,934 6 486 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 2,952,518 100 Mark Twain's America 3D 969 2 1606 Alan Williams (composer) 2,286,499 105 ESPN's Ultimate X 345 3 199 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 4,197,175 110 The Other Side of Heaven 54 1 346 Mitch Davis (writer/director) 4,720,112 John H. Groberg (author/character) Gerald Molen, John Garbett (producers) Steven Ramirez (film editor)
TOP AND BOTTOM - It certainly doesn't mean anything, but it's interesting to note that "The Other Side of Heaven", which already holds the record for the largest box office gross in a single weekend among LDS Cinema films also set the record for the smallest reported box office gross in a single weekend for an LDS Cinema film in theaters this week. Playing in just one theater, the film grossed a mere $54 this weekend.
ASSOCIATED PRESS ARTICLE ON LDS FILM GOES NATIONAL - Wow, this A.P. article is popping up everywhere. Associated Press reporter C. G. Wallace's article about LDS Cinema appeared over the weekend in a number of papers and web sites nationwide. The article presents quotes from interviews with three of the leading figures in LDS filmmaking: Richard Dutcher ("God's Army", "Brigham City", "The Work and the Story"), Kurt Hale ("The R.M.", "The Singles Ward"), and Thomas C. Baggaley ("Spirit of the Sabbath", "The Work and the Story", LDSFilm.com). Salt Lake Tribune movie critic Sean P. Means is also quoted (and, according to Means, misquoted). The article mentions "God's Army", "The Other Side of Heaven", "The Singles Ward", "Handcart" and "Jack Weyland's Charly." One thing that could be pointed out... The article tells a single, very compact, condensed story. It isn't really a survey of the subject or an in-depth article. The interviewer talked at length to Tom Baggaley, Richard Dutcher, Kurt Hale, and Sean P. Means. These people gave the interviewer widely divergent viewpoints and discussed a wide range of subjects. The journalist then condensed everything into a single idea, which makes it sound like the people interviewed all spoke with one accord. Whatever. Neither LDSFilm.com nor the other people interviewed necessarily agree or disagree with any of the journalist's specific conclusions. We're all just glad to see the local film scene receive continued exposure in national media.
Newspapers and web sites where the C.G. Wallace LDS Cinema article has appeared during the past week include: Washington Post; San Francisco Chronicle; CNN.com; Times Picayune (Louisiana); Arizona Republic; The News-Press (Florida); Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Wisconsin); The Advocate (Southern Connecticut); Baltimore Sun; Sarasota Herald-Tribune (Florida); Corpus Christi Caller Times (Texas); Billings Gazette (Montana); Tacoma News Tribune (Washington); WSB Radio (Atlanta, Georgia); Lycos News; WPVI (ABC Action News); Zap2it.com; SunSpot.Net (Maryland); SunSpot.Net (Maryland)Record Searchlight / Redding.com. Most of the newspapers ran the story under the AP-provided headline "Mormon cinema is on a mission for profits," or something very close to that. But other headlines were used as well, including: "Mormon Movies Invading Utah", "Local Mormon Films Make Millions", "Mormon cinema thrives on captive audience", "50s-sensibility movies find big audiences in Utah", "Quantity, not quality, criticized of movies with Mormon theme", "Mormon films compromised by mission for profits", and "Mormon filmmakers, once inspired, now on mission for profit." Clearly some of these headlines are more positive than others.
MERRILL ON MAKING A MOVIE BASED ON THE BOOK OF MORMON - Meridian Magazine ran a very good article by Kieth Merrill on the two announced projects to film Book of Mormon movies. Included is budget information: Estimated $8 mil. for the DeVore/Johnson project and estimated $2 mil. for the Gary Rogers project. Of course, neither of these groups of filmmakers has begun principal photography yet, although Rogers has already held one audition and call backs, and is currently accepting video tape auditions, while the DeVore group has done some location filming in the Middle East which may be used in the feature film as well as the accompanying documentary. The article is at: http://www.meridianmagazine.com/arts/021122movie.html
MEANWHILE, Latter-day Saint-themed films which have ALREADY been filmed and are currently in post-production, with plans for early 2003 theatrical release:
The R.M. (Kurt Hale/Dave Hunter/Kirby Heyborne/Will Swenson)
The Work and the Story (Nathan Smith Jones/Richard Dutcher)
Suddenly Unexpected (Mark Potter/Tucker Dansie)
All three of these are comedies. Also essentially in the can, distribution plans unkown: Day of Defense, the courtroom/missionary drama directed by Adam Lawson. Also in post-production: The Legend of Johnny Lingo (Jerry Molen, John Garbett, Steven Ramirez). A great animated feature film made Church members which is COMPLETE and has been screened at film festival, but which you haven't seen yet, as distribution is pending: The Princess and the Pea (Swan Animation).
BOOK OF MORMON MOVIE SITE UPDATES - There are sneak previews of some of the set preparations and updated casting information on the web site for the Book of Mormon Movie Volume One (which is the Gary Rogers version, if you are trying to keep track of the two different projects). The website posted photographs from callbacks, revealing some of the celebrities who auditioned for parts in the movie. These include: Roberta Shore (best known as "Joyce Kendall" on the 1950s TV series "Father Knows Best", co-star of "Annette" with Annette Funicello, co-star of Disney's "The Shaggy Dog", etc.), Kirby Heyborne (star of "The Singles Ward", and the upcoming movies "The R.M." and "The Best Two Years of My Life"), leading 2nd generation Osmond singer David Osmond (who has starred in the title role in numerous productions of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"), talented stage actress Rachel Woodward (star of Hale Center Theater's "The Diary of Anne Frank"), Todd Davis ("God's Army"), Michael Flynn (Stripes, Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd, Rockwell, The Goodbye Bird, A Home of Our Own, Halloween 4, Savannah Smiles, etc.), Jan Broberg Felt (who played the mom in Blair Treu's "Little Secrets" and T.C. Christensen's "Bug Off!"), Bryce Chamberlain (Day of Defense, The Creator's Game, Man's Search for Happiness, etc.), Tony Larimer (I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, No Dogs Allowed, The Crow: Salvation, No More Baths, American Prophet: The Joseph Smith Story, etc.), and UVSC track and field star Carrie Stringfellow. See http://www.bookofmormonmovie.com/location/index.html and http://www.bookofmormonmovie.com/cast/index.html
FEATURE FILM DIRECTOR WANTED - Blue Crow Productions, Inc. is looking for a director to helm its feature film adaptation of Robert Farrell Smith's comedic novel "Baptists at Our Barbecue". LDSFilm.com was asked to send notice of the available position to its mailing list. Interested directors were asked to submit resumes and video samples of their work to the production company in Albuquerque before December 16, 2002. Production is slated to begin in the Spring of 2003. Currently, the estimated budget for the production and post-production of this full-length feature film is $500,000. _Baptists at Our Barbecue_ is a very well-reviewed, very funny book and we think this looks like a very attractive project. The comedic novel about Latter-day Saints is sold at Deseret Book and other Latter-day Saint bookstores.
LITTLE SECRETS AND BRIGHAM CITY LAUDED - The magazine Christianity Today has an entirely positive article about Blair Treu's feature film "Little Secrets." Douglas LeBlanc notes that "'Little Secrets' avoids theological lectures but delivers an engaging story." The article observes: "'Little Secrets' is part of a growth industry among Mormon filmmakers, though the only presence of Mormonism in this film is its location shooting in Salt Lake City." About the film, the writer states: "'Little Secrets' caught much critical flak for being too squeaky-clean, but that's a bum rap. It works in a subplot involving drunken driving and engages the point well. Further, 'Little Secrets' (and Richard Dutcher's much darker and challenging 'Brigham City' from 2001) are models of how to tell faith-based stories without hammering people with theological lectures." The only thing we might quibble with is the headline: "Mormon Film a Lesson in Telling Faith-Based Stories." Aside from the obvious point that a publication such as Christianity Today should use the term "Latter-day Saint" rather than "Mormon," it is somewhat inaccurate to call "Little Secrets" a "Mormon film." The movie is NOT set in Utah, and its characters are NOT Latter-day Saints, although the director, most of the supporting actors and most of the crewmembers are. The article can be found at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/012/42.88.html
The article does not point out that national secular movie critics as well as critics for Evangelical and Protestant publications have consistently given better reviews to Latter-day Saint-made feature films than to other Christian market films. We've lost count of the number of reviews by Evangelicals we have read which have criticized the Church, yet bemoaned the fact that Evangelical-made movies have consistenly failed to be as well-made as Latter-day Saint-made movies. Of course, even Latter-day Saints have far to go before matching the collective filmmaking talent of the Catholic and Jewish communities.
THE SMITH FAMILY A FAVORITE - Latter-day Saint filmmaker Tasha Oldham's GLBT/LDS-themed documentary "The Smith Family" was a favorite at the AFI (American Film Institute) 2002 Film Fest (November 7-17). The film took home the Audience Award, amid fierce international competition.
ARTICLE ON MAREN ORD - Maren Ord, LDS singer and songwriter, who will be having her acting debut in the HaleStorm production "The R.M." is this subject of an article on BYU NewsNet. See http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/40971 Ord's songs have been featured in "The Singles Ward" and the television series "Alias" and "Felicity". She also sang (but did not write) the title song, "Shining Time", in the feature film "Thomas and the Magic Railroad." She has her own CD release, titled "Perfect", and was included in the compilation CD "Welcome to Brigham", which featured songs inspired by Richard Dutcher's "Brigham City."
DANSIE'S NEW SITE - For over a year now, Latter-day Saint filmmaker Tucker T. Dansie has been producing his new series of short films entitled "One of Life's Little Lessons" a group of films meant to inspire people by teaching them a lesson in each of their 5-8 minute stories. Dansie also recently served as the Director of Photography for the upcoming Latter-day Saint-themed feature comedy "Suddenly Unexpected." Now Dansie has officially launched the "One of Life's Little Lessons" website, where fans can not only view the completed films, but can also keep up-to-date on the series future films. Dansie plans to make up to 30 minutes worth of material per volume of series before he will release the volume on DVD and VHS for families to enjoy. Two films remain to be completed in the 1st Volume. The last two will be shot in 2003. Dansie's next film in the series "The Wooden Bowl" was a short script Finalist in the 2002 LDS Film Festival. Dansie has also taken his "Lessons" on the road as he presents firesides based around his series of films for local church groups. From young adults, to elderly singles, Dansie shows his completed films and talks about the "moral of the story" while sharing personal experiences from his own life. These firesides have been successful thus far, and can be arranged through the website as well, by sending e-mail to Dansie himself. The site also offers insight to future films, auditions, and a unique area where fans can share their own unique "Lessons" for possible inclusion in future series. Imagine, having your own "Life Lesson" made into a short film. The website currently just launched and will undergo constant changes. The site takes powerful advantage of Flash 6 for viewing the films and other navigation. All are invited to visit the site today at: http://www.oneoflifeslittlelessons.com