Natl Film Title Weekend Gross Rank LDS/Mormon Filmmaker/Star Total Gross Theaters Days --- ----------------------------- ----------- ----- ---- 14 The Santa Clause 2 2,070,255 1,511 59 Ken Daurio (screenwriter) 135,459,771 Cinco Paul (screenwriter) 28 Sweet Home Alabama 401,304 326 94 C. Jay Cox (screenwriter) 125,415,296 60 Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure 19,531 7 689 Scott Swofford (producer) 13,774,679 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) Sam Cardon (composer) Stephen L. Johnson (film editor) 65 Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man 12,289 5 969 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 14,523,592 70 Jack Weyland's Charly 7,461 8 94 Adam Anderegg (director) 577,143 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 2,226 4 521 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 2,988,199 86 Galapagos 1,590 1 1158 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 13,863,764
HALESTORM GREENLIGHTS NEW MOYER FEATURE: Screenwriter and stand-up comedian John E. Moyer informed us that his latest script, a feature comedy about home teachers, has been greenlit by HaleStorm Entertainment for production beginning in Summer 2003. Moyer is the writer of the hit LDS-themed feature film "The Singles Ward" (based loosely on his own life), and the upcoming comedy "The R.M." (opening on January 31st, 2003 in Utah). This latest script is described as "'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' meets home teaching on the very last day of the month." Kirby Heyborne and Michael J. Birkeland (both of whom had starring or supporting roles in "The Singles Ward" and "The R.M.") are tentatively attached to star.
DANSIE ANNOUNCES HIS 1ST FEATURE: On 31 December 2002, Tucker T. Dansie announced he will soon begin work on his first feature film as a director, a romantic comedy titled "Love Logs On." The Salt Lake City-based Latter-day Saint film director previously made the documentary "Colors: Up Close & Personal" (1999, available on video at Desert Book stores), as well as many short films, and was the Director of Photography for the upcoming missionary comedy "Suddenly Unexpected." The script for the cyberspace love story was written by Dansie, who will also serve as his own Director of Photography and producer. The film's other producer will be his mother, Judy Dansie, who previously produced his short film "Two Dimes & A Nickel" (2002). The director says that the movie is not necessarily an LDS-themed film: "'Love Logs On' is about 'local' things and local culture and so there is a lot of humor that is about LDS things and LDS culture. Even the characters, although we never come out and say it, are most likely LDS. I just don't find it necessary to sit and talk about religion." Auditions will be held in January. Those interested in camera, digital sound, continuity/script supervising, non-linear edit assisting or other crew positions should visit the official website at http://www.lovelogson.com. All positions are non-pay/non-union. The director says: "we WILL work around YOUR schedule."
SUDDENLY UNEXPECTED - The movie trailer for the upcoming Latter-day Saint-themed feature film "Suddenly Unexpected" is now online at the movie's official website (http://www.suddenlyunexpected.com). Flash 6.0 is required to load and view the trailer.
PAUL AND DAURIO PASS TAYLOR - On Christmas Eve, appropriately enough, additional ticket sales for "Santa Clause 2" pushed the career domestic box office total of Latter-day Saint screenwriter Cinco Paul's movies higher (by about $400,000) than that of the late, great Samuel W. Taylor. Both were at about $140 million. This puts Paul in 3rd place on our list of top-grossing Latter-day Saint screenwriters. Paul's writing partner, Ken Daurio, is only slightly behind Paul, and surpassed Taylor by the end of the week.
PAUL AND DAURIO KEEP WRITING - "Let It Rain," written by Latter-day Saint writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, is in development by Walt Disney/Jim Henson Films production. Paul and Daurio will also executive produce. Henson's Lisa Henson (daughter of the late famed puppeteer Jim Henson) and Kristine Belson (executive producer of "Muppets in Space") will produce. The live action movie features singing dogs and stars a canine grifter who convinces a barnyard full of animals that they can trigger rainfall if they develop their singing abilities. Something like that. Think of it as "Moulin Rouge!" meets "All Dogs Go To Heaven" mixed with "Sister Act."
MORE ON ABAGNALE - Like the Salt Lake Tribune before it, but now in more depth, the Deseret News has published an article about Frank W. Abagnale Jr.'s claims that he was a BYU professor. Abagnale is the subject of the new Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks movie, "Catch Me If You Can", which finished the weekend in the #2 spot (behind "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"), grossing $30 million dollars. BYU claims that Abagnale never taught there. "Catch Me If You Can" is rated PG-13. So under BYU guidelines, it could be used in teaching history classes. See: http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,450022954,00.html?
WALKER'S NEXT MOVIES - Latter-day Saint actor Paul Walker's next movie, "Timeline", is set for an 11 April 2003 release. The movie was directed by Richard Donner and is an adaptation of Michael Crichton's best-selling time travel to medieval times novel. Walker receives top-billing as a graduate student who travels to the past to rescue his professor. After that, Walker will be appearing on screens as the star of "The Fast and the Furious 2," the follow up to last year's surprise racing hit. Walker received a $2 million paycheck for "The Fast and the Furious," but managed to get $7 million for the sequel.
BOOK OF MORMON MOVIE CASTING UPDATE - [Quoting official site:] At this time we have not yet completed casting. We will be making our final selections for the vast majority of the principle roles by the end of December and notifying the actors. However, a few roles may not be cast until a later date. We would like to thank everyone who has auditioned so far. Your talents and excitement for this project are greatly appreciated! We will be holding a casting session in Los Angeles ONLY for the part of Nephi. This will NOT be an open casting session. If you would like to be considered for this part, please send a headhsot and resume. [END QUOTE]
OSC ON SCREENPLAY ADAPTATIONS OF HIS BOOKS - Here is a very, very detailed interview with Orson Scott Card, primarily about his writing of the screenplay for an adaptation of his novel Ender's Game. He also mentions the screenplay adaptation of his novel "Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus." The adaptation was written by his son Geoffrey. See: http://www.americanalien.net/OSC.html
BAGGALEY ON CHRISTMAS MOVIES - Meridian Magazine has an article about Christmas videos written by LDSFilm.com co-webmaster Thomas C. Baggaley at: http://www.meridianmagazine.com/videos/021224holiday.html
THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN IS A SANGUINE VISION - In its recap of the year in film, the Orange County Register calls "The Other Side of Heaven" a "sanguine vision." See: http://www2.ocregister.com/ocrweb/ocr/article.do?id=18139§ion=SHOW&year=2002&month=12&day=29
LaBUTE AND ECKHART'S "POSSESSION" CITED BY MOVIE CRITICS AS ONE OF TOP 10 MOVIES OF THE YEAR: At least four movie reviewers have included Neil Labute's feature film "Possession" on their lists of the Top 10 best movies of 2002. The movie was directed by controversial but critically successful Latter-day Saint filmmaker Neil LaBute, who co-wrote the screenplay based on the same-titled novel by A.S. Byatt. The lead actor in the movie is Aaron Eckhart, also a Latter-day Saint and LaBute's fellow graduate from BYU. The following critics included "Possession" in their Top 10 movies of the year lists:
- Jim Verniere, Boston Herald
- Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com (ranked 9th)
- Charles Taylor, Salon.com (ranked 10th)
- Chuck Schwartz, CrankyCritic.com
We could also point out that celebrated movie critic Roger Ebert listed "Possession" in "11th place" in his "Top 10 write-up" column. But Ebert listed 57 other movies in "11th place" as well. A more exclusive list was Chuck Rudolph's top movies list for Slant Magazine, which included "Possession" among only 11 movies cited for "honorable mention." Also, the New York Online Film Critics named "Possession" (co-written by LaBute) as the one runner-up for their Best Screenplay Award. (They gave the award to "Adaptation," which is the overwhelming favorite for Best Screenplay competitions and lists this year.)
MINORITY REPORT ON DOZENS OF TOP 10 LISTS: "Minority Report," the science fiction thriller directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Latter-day Saint producer Gerald R. Molen (who also produced last year's "The Other Side of Heaven") has appeared on dozens of lists of the "Top 10" movies of 2002. In fact, the "Top Films in Critics' Top 10 Lists" website ranks "Minority Report" at #12 on the list of movies included on the most lists written by the country's 45 most popular movie critics, and at #16 on a list culled from 129 separate Top 10 lists. Here are a few of the lists ranking "Minority Report" in the Top 10 movies of 2002:
(NUMBERS IN PARENTHESES ARE THE MOVIE'S RANK WITHIN THE TOP 10 LIST. SOME LISTS ARE NOT RANKED.)
The Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert (1)
The Chicago Sun-Times, Richard Roeper (3)
NOW Magazine, John Harkness (3)
The News Tribune (Tacoma, Washington), Soren Andersen (3)
USA Today, Mike Clark (4)
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, William Arnold (4)
Time Magazine, Richard Corliss (5)
Boston Phoenix, Peter Keough (5)
Boston Herald, Jim Verniere
The Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio), George M. Thomas (5)
ScreenDaily.com / Screen International (5)
Movie City News, Gary Dretzka (6)
USA Today, Claudia Puig (8)
Chicago Tribune, Mark Caro (8)
The Age (Australia) (8)
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Philip Martin (8)
Chicago Tribune, Michael Wilmington (9)
Orlando Sentinel, Jay Boyar (9)
Gannett News Service/The Desert Sun, Jack Garner (9)
Lifetimes.com, Geoffrey Himes (9)
Charlotte Observer, Lawrence Topman (10)
The Mercury News (California), Bruce Newman (10)
Los Angeles Times, Manohla Dargis
IndieWire, Howard Feinstein
IndieWire, Peter Brunette
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Joe Williams
The Mercury News, Glenn Lovell (runner-up)
The Plain Dealer (Cleveland), Joanna Connors (runner-up)
Las Vegas Mercury, Bob Grimm (runner-up)
The Toronto Star, Geoff Pevere (runner-up)
Slant Magazine, Ed Gonzalez (runner-up)
The Hot Button, David Poland (runner-up)
In his Top 10 list Roger Ebert (the country's most prominent movie critic) picked "Minority Report" the best movie of the year. He said about the film:
"Minority Report" Steven Spielberg's movie starred Tom Cruise as a policeman of the future, a man in charge of a program that uses three "precogs," who can foresee the future, allowing them to predict crimes so they can be prevented before they happen. Based on a 1956 story by Philip K. Dick, the movie combined a classic murder plot with sensational futuristic effects and a strong human story. The Cruise character, still devastated over the disappearance of his young son years earlier, is endangered by an apparent loophole in the precog system. In one of the most extraordinary chase sequences ever filmed, he flees from police while guided by one of the precognatives (Samantha Morton), who gives him instructions based on what is about to happen. The movie is visually dazzling. A sequence involving computer-generated "spiders" who search for Cruise within the elaborate set of a boarding house, is one of the most impressive displays of technical mastery I have ever seen. It also works as pure moviemaking. The whole movie does. "Minority Report" is mainstream moviemaking at its most sublime.
Also, "Punch-Drunk Love" was the runner-up (after "Adaptation") for both the Best Picure and the Best Screenplay awards given by the Toronto Film Critics.
THE BELIEVER ON TOP 10 LISTS: "The Believer," starring Latter-day Saint actor Ryan Gosling as an Orthodox Jew involved in the neo-Nazi movement, was also included in a number of Top 10 lists:
Christian Science Monitor, David Sterrit
Santa Cruz Sentinel, Wallace Baine (7)
The Oregonian, Shawn Levy (4)
Catherine Tunnacliffe, EYE Magazine
EYE Magazine, Kim Linekin
IndieWire, David Steritt and Mikita Brottman
AUTO FOCUS: Latter-day Saint actress Kelly Packard only has a very small role in "Auto Focus" (the Bob Crane biopic), but we'll mention that the movie was included on the Top 10 lists of the following critics: Jami Bernard (New York Times); Wallace Baine (Santa Cruz Sentinel); F.X. Feeney (LA Weekly); Owen Gleiberman (Entertainment Weekly); Scott Foundas (Indiewire); Glenn Lovell (Mercury News); Katherine Monk (The Vancouver Sun); Amy Taubin (Film Comment/Village Voice/ Artforum); George M. Thomas (Beacon Journal, Ohio).
MOVIES DIRECTED BY LATTER-DAY SAINTS MOSTLY NOT IN NATION'S TOP 10 LISTS: "Minority Report" with Molen as producer and "Punch-Drunk Love" with Latter-day Saint characters and actors were the movies we track that were included on the most Top 10 lists by movie critics. And "The Believer" is on a few lists, largely for Ryan Gosling's tour de force performance. But what about movies DIRECTED by Latter-day Saints? (After all, auteur theory holds that it is the director who is ultimately the creative "author," of a film.) Well... There's not much to mention. As noted above, Neil LaBute's "Possession" was a Top 10 pick by a small number of critics. Also, "Cremaster 3," directed by Matthew Barney, was #8 on the Top 10 list of Artforum's Chrissie Iles, was ranked #10 by Scott Foundas (IndieWire), and was on the honorable mention list of Slant Magazine's Ed Gonzelez. Matthew Barney is a non-churchgoing Mormon who has repeatedly used Utah and Mormon motifs, characters and images in his "Cremaster" series of art films. Four "LDS cinema" movies (theatrically-released feature films made by Latter-day Saint filmmakers with Latter-day Saint characters) were released in 2002: Kurt Hale's "The Singles Ward", Ryan Little's "Out of Step", Kels Goodman's "Handcart" and "Jack Weyland's Charly," directed by Adam Anderegg. To nobody's surprise, none of these movies -- all low-budget productions by first-time directors -- were in the Top 10 lists of the nation's movie critics. (But many enthusiastic Latter-day Saint moviegoers -- who see far fewer movies than film critics and who place more weight on values and thematic content -- would include one or more of these LDS-themed movies on their personal Top 10 lists.) Mark Swan's animated "The Princess and the Pea" was on nobody's list. Even if it was better than Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" (which it wasn't), how could it be on anybody's list? Although it was seen at a couple of festivals and apparently had a brief Los Angeles release making it eligible for Academy Award consideration, it has not been distributed in U.S. theaters and hardly anybody has seen it. Blair Treu's theatrical debut "Little Secrets" is a great family movie and is easily one of the best films of the year to feature a violinist as the lead character, but it made nobody's Top 10 list. The good news is that "Little Secrets" will be available on video and DVD within a few weeks, so if you missed it in theaters you can finally check it out for yourself. Finally, "The Master of Disguise" was on more "Worst 10" lists than we care to think about. Silver lining: At least it was memorable.
DESERET NEWS BEST/WORST MOVIES OF THE YEAR: Deseret News movie critic Jeff Vice published lists of his 10 favorite and least favorite movies of the year. His "Top 10 Best Movies" of 2002 list: 1. Spirited Away; 2. Spider-Man; 3. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers; 4. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart; 5. The Hours; 6. About a Boy; 7. Catch Me If You Can; 8. Punch-Drunk Love; 9/10. (tie) Adaptation; Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. "Punch-Drunk Love," which was filmed partially in Utah, stars Adam Sandler. Sandler's nemesis in the movie is a matress business owner based in Provo, Utah who sends four Mormon henchmen (played by Latter-day Saint actors) after Sandler.
On his "10 Worst Movies of the Year" list Vice named: 1. The Master of Disguise; 2. Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights; 3. Pluto Nash; 4. Kung Pow: Enter th First; 5. The Truth About Charlie; 6; XXX; 7. The Tuxedo; 8. Sorority Boys; 9. Sim0ne; 10. Star Trek: Nemesis. About "The Master of Disguise" Vice said: "This painfully unfunny, supposed family comedy was, hands-down, the worst movie I saw all year. (And I used to be a huge Dana Carvey fan.)" "The Master of Disguise" was directed by Perry Andelin Blake. Interestingly enough, Blake was also the production designer for Adam Sandler's animated "Eight Crazy Nights," also on Vice's list. Blake is considered one of the most talented production designers in the industry and has been the production designer for nearly all of Adam Sandler's movies. Blake's directorial debut, "The Master of Disguise," did not please critics, but many mentioned that the movie's production design was impressive. In criticizing "The Master of Disguise," critics usually blamed Dana Carvey, the movie's writer and star, rather than Blake.
SALT LAKE TRIBUNE'S TOP 10/BOTTOM 10 MOVIES OF THE YEAR LIST: Sean P. Means, movie critic for the Salt Lake Tribune, named his 10 favorite and 10 least favorite movies of the year. He notes: "Some of my fellow critics have told me that because I took off most of the summer, I am unqualified to rate the year's" movies. Means "Top 10" list for 2002 did not include any movies made in Utah or made by Latter-day Saint filmmakers: 1. Far From Heaven; 2. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers; 3. Spirited Away; 4. Rabbit-Proof Fence; 5. The Rookie; 6. About Schmidt; 7. The Hours; 8. Kissing Jessica Stein; 9. Nine Queens; 10. The Kid Stays in the Picture. But in his "Second 10" -- a list of movies he would rank in places 11 through 20 among his favorites of the year -- he includes "Minority Report," produced by Jerry Molen, the Latter-day Saint producer also known for "The Other Side of Heaven," "Jurassic Park" and "Schindler's List." "Minority Report" was directed by Steven Spielberg and starred Tom Cruise.
In Means' "Bottom 10" list, those movies he liked least this year, he named: Scooby-Doo; Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights; Stealing Harvard; Trapped; The New Guy; Formula 51; All About the Benjamins; Jason X; Bad Company; and The Singles Ward. Because he took the summer off, Means admits that some reportedly bad movies do not appear on his list: "How could I tally the year's turkeys without having seen 'Juwanna Mann', 'The Master of Disguise' or 'The Adventures of Pluto Nash'? Don't worry -- there were enough awful movies to go around." Means mentioned Latter-day Saint kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart in his comments about the movie "Trapped": "Even if the Elizabeth Smart case and subsequent kidnappings nationwide had not been fresh in our minds, this manipulative button-pusher of a thriller would still be crass and cruel." Another of Means' least favorite movies, "The New Guy," stars non-churchgoing Latter-day Saint actress Eliza Dushku in the lead female role. Finally, about the Latter-day Saint-themed feature film "The Singles Ward," Means said: "This is how far, and how quickly, the 'Mormon Cinema' genre has devolved: recycled fireside one-liners, coupled with a smug 'if you don't get it, you're not one of us' attitude. (Send your angry e-mails -- I'm ready.)" Although "The Singles Ward" received mostly positive reviews from critics outside of Utah, it did not please critics at the following Utah newspapers: Deseret News; Salt Lake City Weekly; Daily Herald (Utah County); Salt Lake Tribune.
BEST OF THE BEST: There were three movies which appeared in the Top 10 movies of the year lists written by BOTH Desert News critic Jeff Vice and Salt Lake Tribune critic Sean P. Means: Hayao Miyazaki's animated masterpiece "Spirited Away", Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"; and the tripartate drama "The Hours." Peter Jackson has stated that he was inspired to make his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy after seeing Latter-day Saint screenwriter Chris Conkling's animated film "The Lord of the Rings" (1978). As a director, Jackson scored his first big hit with his 1995 movie "Heavenly Creatures," which recounts the early years of Juliet Hulme, who was later a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The lead actress in "The Hours" is Meryl Streep, who stars as "Hannah," the Latter-day Saint mother in the miniseries "Angels in America," which will premiere on HBO in 2003. Fans of Miyazaki should definitely check out his earlier movie "Kiki's Delivery Service" ("Majo no takkyubin"), which is thematically similar to Richard Dutcher's "God's Army."
QUOTING FROM DESERET NEWS FEATURE WRITER CHRIS HICKS' YEAR END MEDIA WRAP-UP, which was published on December 27, 2002: Among the year's biggest box-office bombs were Eddie Murphy's "The Adventures of Pluto Nash," Dana Carvey's comeback film "The Master of Disguise" [directed by Perry Andelin Blake] and Madonna's remake of "Swept Away"... [Latter-day Saint inventor] Philo Farnsworth, whose concept of televison celebrated its 75th anniversary in September, was pretty much overlooked nationally... a number of actors... [died, including]... Utah native Keene Curtis.
SL TRIBUNE ON LDS FILM 2002 - Salt Lake Tribune has a great article about major events in the world of LDS film during year 2002. The article heralds "The Singles Ward" as the box office champ among "LDS cinema" movies released this year. Also mentions: Charly, The Other Side of Heaven, Handcart, and Out of Step, and mentions upcoming movies "The Work and the Story," "The R.M." and "The Prophet." It also mentions such things as the Latter-day Saint actors who played the "Mormon thugs" in the critical hit "Punch-Drunk Love." Many people think the movie stars Adam Sandler, but the real stars of course are the Stevens brothers. The passing of non-churchgoing Mormon actor Keene Curtis is mentioned, along with some other items.
BEST UTAH STAGE PERFORMANCES OF 2002: Deseret News theater editor Ivan M. Lincoln wrote a list of the top 10 best stage performances in Utah in 2002, included in his year-end review article published 27 December 2002:
1. Robert Peterson (USF's "Man of La Mancha")
2. Anne Stewart Mark (SLAC's "Going to St. Ives")
3. JaceSon Parker Barrus (in HCT's "Music Man")
4. Jayne Luke (SLAC's "Big Love")
5. Betsy West (Plan-B's "My Left Breast")
6. Max Robinson (in PTC's "Peter Pan")
7. Jennie Whitlock (RMT's "Man of La Mancha")
8. David Spencer (ETC's "Ruthless" and "The Mystery of Irma Vep")
9. Sean Michael Hunt (WSU's "Floyd Collins")
10. Sam Stewart (USF's "Harvey")