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

Weekend of October 1, 2004

[If table lines up improperly, use mono-spaced font, i.e. Courier]

Natl Film Title                Weekend Gross % B.O. Theatrs
Rank LDS/Mormon Filmmaker/Star   Total Gross Change  $/Thtr   Days
--- ---------------------------  ----------- ------ -------   ----
12  Napoleon Dynamite              1,391,097  -23%     855    115
    Jared Hess (writer/director)  37,614,092        $1,627
    Jerusha Hess
      (writer/costume designer)
    Jon Heder (1st billed star)
    Aaron Ruell (3rd billed star)
    Jeremy Coon (producer/editor)
    Sean Covel (producer)
    Chris Wyatt (producer)
    Munn Powell (cinematographer)
    Cory Lorenzen
      (production designer)
    Curt Jensen (art director)
    Tim Skousen, Brian Petersen
      (assistant directors)

17  Collateral                       703,378  -52%     802     59
    Bryan H. Carroll*             99,341,934          $877
      (assoc. producer
      2nd unit director)

30  The Notebook                     161,092  -30%     245    101
    Ryan Gosling                  80,313,619          $658
      (1st billed star)

54  Bugs!                             46,863   -9%      26    570
    stars Papilio,                13,076,564        $1,802
      a Great Mormon butterfly

79  Mean Creek                        12,869  -66%      25     45
    LDS lead character               546,274          $515

80  Saints and Soldiers               12,407  -49%      16     59
    Ryan Little                      771,557          $775
    Adam Abel (producer)
    Brian Brough
     (assoc. producer/produc. manager)
    Wynn Hougaard (editor)
    J Bateman (composer)
    Matt Whitaker (screenwriter)
    Jennifer Buster (casting)
    Actors: Corbin Allred, Larry Bagby III,
      Kirby Heyborne, Lincoln Hoppe,
      Curt Dousett, Ben Gourley,
      Ethan Vincent, etc.

82  Riding Giants (documentary)       10,213  -57%      20     87
    Jeff Clark                     2,201,357          $511
      (featured LDS surfer)

88  The Best Two Years                 6,155  -67%      11    227
    Scott S. Anderson              1,150,968          $560
    Michael Flynn (producer)
    Fred C. Danneman (executive producer)
    Gordon Lonsdale (cinematographer)
    Wynn Hougaard (editor)
    Michael McLean (songwriter, music supervisor)
    Dave Sapp
      (line producer/1st A.D./unit production manager)
    Darin Anderson (production manager)
    Michael L. McDonough (sound editor)
    Rebecca Nibley (costume designer)
    Actors: K.C. Clyde, Kirby Heyborne,
      David Nibley, Cameron Hopkin,
      Scott Christopher, Michael Flynn

89  Benji: Off the Leash!              5,721  -83%      29     45
    Actors: Nick Whitaker,         3,749,526          $197
      Chris Kendrick, Duane Stephens,
      Neal Barth, Christy Summerhays,
      Lincoln Hoppe, Scott Wilkinson

92  Suspect Zero                       4,321  -85%      13     38
    Aaron Eckhart                  8,680,502          $332
      (1st billed star)

109 China: The Panda Adventure           721   -0%       3   1165
    Reed Smoot (cinematographer)   3,863,922          $240

LDS CINEMA "BAPTISTS AT OUR BARBECUE" WINS TOP AWARD AT NEW JERSEY FILM FESTIVAL!! -- Moments ago, "Baptists at Our Barbecue", a soon to be released Mormon-themed major motion picture, won the top prize, "Best of Festival" at the 2004 Hope and Dreams Film Festival held last weekend in New Jersey. The best prize, however, was the reaction from the entirely non-LDS audience in attendance!

It was overwhelming. The audience could not believe Mormons would or could make such a high-quality and funny film. They would not stop asking questions of executive producer, Farrell M. Smith, the only Mormon in attendance; and they devoured, at full price, every available copy of the novel on which the film was based and kept asking questions about the film late into the night.

They laughed out loud and enjoyed every joke (Mormon, Baptist or general) and thought the story was universal in its appeal and strength and could not hold back their cheers when Tartan finally kisses Charity at the end! "Baptists at Our Barbecue" proved to be a truly feel-good family film that crosses boundaries just like "My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding" did a couple of years ago. It is the first Mormon film to take on another religion and be embraced in the process!

The film opens October 8 at select theaters in Utah.

Thank you, in advance, for your interest in and any coverage of this unique new Mormon film.

- Matt Smith, producer "Baptists at Our Barbecue"


"Baptists at Our Barbecue," a film based on the best-selling novel by Robert F. Smith and directed by Christian Vuissa won the Best of Festival award at the 2004 Hope and Dreams Film Festival in New Jersey.

"We are pleased to award 'Baptists at Our Barbecue' the Best Film of the 2004 Hope and Dreams Film Festival,' said Christine L. Rusin, Curator for the festival in Hope, New Jersey. "The audience just loved 'Baptists at Our Barbecue . . . not only is it entertaining but it conveys an important message of the good that can come from people working together regardless of their differences."

The Best of the Festival Award is the Hope and Dreams Film Festival's most prestigious accolade.

"Baptists at Our Barbecue" also entered the 2004 Fiery Film Festival in New Mexico where it swept as Best Comedy and Best of Festival.

"This is the best Indie comedy of the year," said Ced Rael, Fiery Festival's Director. "It was a clean sweep; definitely the most enjoyable film at the festival. In fact, if our festival had an Audience Choice award, 'Baptists' would have won that too."

"We are extremely excited about the success of 'Baptists at Our Barbecue,' said Director Chrstian Vuissa. "Unlike other recent LDS movies, this movie doesn't hide its Mormon characters under a bushel but tries to explore the peculiarities of Mormon culture. And so the fact that it is still popular with "Non-Mormon" audiences is very rewarding."

"Baptists at Our Barbecue" was produced by Blue Crow Productions and Mirror Films and is being distributed by Halestorm Entertainment. The film is being released in theaters October 8th 2004.

ECSTATIC REVIEWS COMING IN FOR "SONS OF PROVO" - Beverly of Los Angeles saw "Sons of Provo" at a film festival and posted the following review on (
Date: 21 July 2004
Summary: The Spinal Tap of Mormon Boy Bands

This film is hilarious. There were many moments which paralleled Spiral Tap, which is in a large part its inspiration. The performances are great, with the actors doing their own singing and song writing. Overall a very talented group of people put together a hugely entertaining film with many laugh out loud moments. Done in the Spinal Tap style of a mockumentary, it even parodies this classic in fresh and funny ways. Who new the inner workings of trying to be a successful Christian Boy Band could be so funny? I'm glad somebody thought of it. It should get theatrical play at some point. In the mean time it is definitely [worth] checking out in festivals, where it seems to be getting good exposure.

This is just one of the many positive reviews we have been hearing and reading for "Sons of Provo." Look for "Sons of Provo" to hit Utah theaters February 4, 2004.

LDS DIRECTOR SCHRODER'S INDIAN-THEMED FILM, LDS CINEMA COMEDY, AND U. OF U. ANTI-MORMON FILM FEATURED AT IDAHO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Eric Russell, culture editor for the The Arbiter, Boise State's independent student newspaper, wrote about the one of the state's biggest film events, held September 30 to October 3: "Foreign films outshine American entries at Idaho International Film Festival", published 7 October 2004. URL:

Here is the newspaper's write-up of "Burying the Past," made by University of Utah film instuctor Brian Patrick:

"Burying the Past" was the most controversial film in the festival and was made by a faculty member of the University of Utah. The film is a documentary removed from the "Spudfest" film festival in Driggs, Idaho because of threats of protest from members of the LDS (Mormon) church in eastern Idaho. "Burying the Past" was a hot potato coming into the Idaho Film Festival.

The most interesting aspect of "Burying the Past" was the director Brian Patrick telling the audience that he had absolutely no agenda in creating the film other than establishing an awareness of the documentary's subject - the Mountain Meadows massacre of 1857. But Patrick's film betrays his own claims. "Burying the Past" is skewed against Mormons as strongly as possible. Of course, it's his right to make an anti-Mormon film if he wants to, but disguising the film as merely a historical inquiry seriously undermines the strength of his investigation.

I'm not an expert on the Mountain Meadows massacre, but I know enough to know that Patrick was leaving out important information about the event and prominently showcases "expert" historians who interpret information in extreme ways.

The Mountain Meadows massacre began with a wagon train of 140 people from Arkansas who, while traveling through southern Utah were allegedly attacked and killed by a group of Indians and radical Mormons. The documentary re-lives the event and then provides interviews with descendents of some of the few survivors. Patrick's treatment of the event is unfortunate, because this is certainly an important historical event that deserves to be remembered with full-fledged respect.

Here is the article's write-up of Latter-day actor/director Rick Schroder's film "Black Cloud":

"Black Cloud" (Rick Schroder USA, 2004) represents both the name of the title character as well as an emotional atmosphere that permeates most of the film. Black Cloud (Eddie Spears) is an American Indian on an Arizona reservation who's become a spectacular boxer under the tutelage of Bud (Russell Means). When he's given a chance to go to a tournament that will lead towards boxing finalists for the U.S. in the Olympics, he declines because of his hatred towards America and the white man.

Eventually Black Cloud softens when he discovers a valiant white man in his own heritage. He then begins to turn his life around. The climax is odd though, because it leads to a sudden shift in character without allowing us to really understand what Black Cloud is feeling. In fact, the whole film has a fairly rough script, including a lot of choppy dialogue that could have used polishing. Perhaps the biggest problem is that, even after Black Cloud's transformation, viewers never come to really care about him.

In a Q & A session after the screening, actor Russell Means told the audience that lead actor Eddie Spears spent two months training for his boxing scenes with the legendary Jimmy Gambini, who also trained actors for "Rocky". The training shows. The boxing scenes amount to the most finely filmed portions of the film, creating an intensity that's on par with the best boxing movies. On the other hand, Spears should have spent more time training for traditional acting. His overall performance just wasn't strong enough to carry the film, which ended up creating a lot of jilted scenes.

Russell Means felt there was a deeper purpose in the film, however. While expressing his vision of American Indian rights he explained, "The reason I did this movie is because when I read the script it portrayed us [American Indians] as human beings." Means went on to explain that while most Hollywood movies use "terrible stereotypes" in their depiction of American Indians, "Black Cloud" was "very accurate".

LDS-THEMED FILMS SONS OF PROVO, BURYING THE PAST STIR UP FANS, CONTROVERSY AT IDAHO FILM FEST - Two LDS-themed films were shown at the Idaho International Film Festival (IIFF): "Sons of Provo" (a comedy) and "Burying the Past" (described by a non-LDS Idaho newspaper reviewer as an anti-Mormon diatribe masquerading as a documentary). For the full IIFF schedule, see this week's insert or visit Full article:


"Burying the Past," filmmaker Brian Patrick's documentary about the infamous Mountain Meadows Massacre in Utah, recently won the award for Best of State Award: Utah 2004, but also carries the distinction of having been removed from Spudfest out of fear (according to Patrick) of protest by local LDS wards. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the documentary Sons of Provo (which premiered at Spudfest without incident), provides a straightforward cinema-verite look at the Mormon boy band Everclean, and will be accompanied by a member of the band.

The festival is a heady, highly balanced mixture of the foreign and the familiar, made all the more intriguing by Fletcher's practiced, often ironic scheduling style. A well-organized film fan can catch Burying the Past, Sons of Provo and the zombie gut-buffet Dead and Breakfast in a straight shot without ever having to walk more than two blocks between venues.

SONS OF PROVO V. BAPTISTS AT OUR BARBECUE - Two LDS Cinema comedies are making the rounds of the film festival circuit, and are soon to be released in theaters: Will Swenson's "Sons of Provo" starring Kirby Heyborne and Christian Vuissa's "Baptists at Our Barbecue" starring Heather Beers and Dan Merkley.

You didn't hear it here, but did you know that Kirby Heyborne was seriously considered for the lead role in "Baptists at Our Barbecue", but the role eventually went to Dan Merkley... I think Heyborne was simply too young and/or too over-exposed.

Anyway, both of these movies have already won audience choice top awards at prestigious film festivals: "Sons of Provo" won at the Spudfest Film Festival in Briggs, Idaho and at the Temecula Film Festival in Southern California. "Baptists at Our Barbecue" won the audience choice top award at the New Jersey Hope and Dreams Film Festival.

The advance buzz is very good for both of these movies.

There are people who might say that the Southern California and Idaho film festivals are "softer" targets because they occurred in areas with large populations of Latter-day Saints, while the New Jersey film festival audience was made up entirely of non-Latter-day Saints... Perhaps... But Latter-day Saints are far from a majority in southern California, and Temecula is not an LDS-run festival. Also, I don't think you can conclude think that Latter-day Saints were simply voting for "Sons of Provo" en masse in Temecula, because "Sons of Provo" ALSO won the Jury Award for best film at the Sacramento Film and Music Festival and Best Film, from a jury of non-LDS film professionals.

"Baptists at Our Barbecue" started its festival season later than "Sons of Provo". The two films have not yet competed in head-to-head competition, but I hope they do some day. It would be interesting to see the result, but perhaps the real contest will be at the box office.

We believe that all Latter-day Saints should go see both films once, and then go 3 more times to whichever one they like the best. This will be the best way to take a "straw poll" for gauging which new "LDS Cinema" comedy is most loved.

Of course, these films will also be competing in theaters with "Pillar of Light: The Work and the Glory", but that's a serious period romance with a much bigger budget, and not a contemporary comedy. So it's hard to compare the two. Given its subject matter, "The Work and the Glory" will have a bigger challenge pleasing film critics. But it has a bigger built-in audience. "Baptists" author Robert Farrell Smith is an excellent writing with a following among Church members who are fans of his many comedic novels. But "The Work and the Glory" series (by now-G.A. Gerald R. Lund) has sold many times more copies and is much better known.

"Baptists" director Christian Vuissa has established an impressive track record with his past films, while "Sons of Provo" helmer Will Swenson is pretty much coming out of nowhere as a helmer. He has previously only been known as an actor. While Vuissa has long been foretold as one of the Four Horsemen of the LDS Cinema Un-Apocalypse who will push the genre to a whole new level of artistic quality and entertainment values, Swenson is something of a surprise.

Bottom line: Look for both "Sons of Provo" and "Baptists at Our Barbecue" to be crowd pleasers, with "Sons" grabbing showing stronger early ticket sales, but "Baptists" being noted by professional critics for its something "extra" in terms of artistry and performances. Although both are comedies, "Baptists" is a more serious comedy, and its themes are presciently topical - somehow perfectly timed with and tied to current events: both domestically with regards to the Presidential race and internationally with regards to conflicts in the Middle East. The ways that Mormon vs. Baptist conflict in "Baptists at Our Barbecue" evokes discussions of Democrats vs. Republicans and Muslims vs. Westerners is subtle, unconscious, unplanned, but I would be surprised if critics didn't pick up on it and commend the film for the way it works on so many levels.

LDS PRODUCERS MOLEN, CRABB, THOMAS MAKING THRILLER W/ CELLULAR HELMER - Shakers: crime thriller produced by Chet Thomas; executive producers: Jerry Molen, Kelly Crabb; directed by David R. Ellis (Cellular; Final Destination 2; Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco); written by Perry Barndt and Jason Rodriguez; 2006 release planned

According to, Latter-day Saint filmmaker Chet Thomas is the producer of an upcoming thriller to be directed by David R. Ellis (director of "Cellular" and "Final Destination 2"). On board as executive producers are Bros. Kelly Crabb and Jerry Molen. Bro. Molen received an Academy Award for producing "Schindler's List," and he is well known to LDS film fans as the producer of "The Other Side of Heaven" and "The Legend of Johnny Lingo." Bro. Thomas won the top award at the 2nd LDS Film Festival for his short film "Simplicity." Bro. Thomas was Bro. Molen's assistant when Molen produced "Minority Report."

The name of their upcoming film is "Shakers."

As there are only about 7 Shakers left in the world, and all of them are very old women, I sincerely doubt that this crime thriller is a contemporary story about the members of the Shaker religious denomination. (A major reason why there are almost no Shakers left in the world is their doctrine prohibiting all sexual activity, even with one's spouse.) listing for "Shakers" is here:






BLACK CLOUD ACTOR SPEARS PULLS NO PUNCHES - Article focusing on the star of "Black Cloud." Non-LDS Native American actor Eddie Spears' first big acting job was for Latter-day Saint film director Kieth Merrill... His latest role is starring in Latter-day Saint director Rick Schroder's new movie "Black Cloud." See:

"THE WORK AND THE GLORY" MAKING-OF FILM SHOWN BETWEEN CONFERENCE SESSIONS - A half-hour KSL documentary about the making of "The Work and the Glory" aired between General Conference sessions on Sunday.

Is it a sumptuous period romance set against the backdrop of the Restoration? Is it the triumphant silver screen star turn of LDS child soap Brighton Hertford, in the role of "Melissa Steed"? Is it Elder Gerald R. Lund's bid to top Elder John H. Groberg as LDS Cinema's most fabulous General Authority movie author? Is it a tale of greed, hate, envy, faith, hope, charity and 12 other qualities necessary in a campaign manager? Is this the sequel to Nathan Smith Jones' hilarious mockumentary "The Work and the Story"?? Is this Hollywood movie star Sam Henning's 5th LDS movie, since starring in Marc Marriott's "Snow Child", Scott Murphy's "Behind the Waterfall", T.C. Christensen's "Seasons of the Heart", and Lyman Dayton's "On Our Own." Is it a movie which features the actor who played Jesus in this year's "Judas" ABC TV movie, now playing a different historical religious figure: Joseph Smith? Or is it all these things and MORE!!!

Actually... "The Work and the Glory" is ALL these things, except one. But I'm not telling which one. If you saw the documentary, you know.



One note: Although he is a co-webmaster of, the opinions expressed by Baggaley in this article should not be taken as that of's entire editorial staff. Specifically, Baggaley endorses making films that do not have LDS characters. Such a position might be considered heretical by other members of's staff, who feel that Latter-day Saints are far under-represented as characters in film and have expressed the desire that ALL films have at least one LDS character, just as there is often a token GLBT or minority character in many Hollywood-released films. [webmaster: Tom is saying this because he was worred that I would burn him at the stake. Besides, I only think that Hollywood movies should have LDS characters if they take place any time after April 6, 1830.]

JAMES REDFORD'S NEW FILM - Utahn James Redford is the son of Latter-day Saint scholar and documentary filmmaker Lola van Wagoner and non-LDS Academy Award actor/director Robert Redford. Article:
FAMED COMEDIAN, COMIC ACTOR RODNEY DANGERFIELD (MARRIED TO A LATTER-DAY SAINT) PASSES AWAY - Famed comedian and comic actor Rodney Dangerfield has passed away at the age of 82. Dangerfield was not a Latter-day Saint, but his wife was a Latter-day Saint. From the many news articles I have read about this, I believe that Dangerfield's wife Latter-day Saint wife Joan Child was not a frequent churchgoer, but did adhere to a number of other Latter-day Saint practices. News articles describe her as a "clean-living Mormon flower shop owner he initially met in the late '70s. Joan Child was Dangerfield's second wife. Dangerfield sometimes talked about his active Latter-day Saint relatives in interviews and comedy routines.

His wife's religious and ethnic background even inspired a feature film that he wrote and starred in: "My 5 Wives." Although set in Utah, the film respectfully distinguishes the polygamists in the movie from mainstream Latter-day Saints. Most critics were not kind to "My 5 Wives," which was released in 2000. It was not reviewed by many publications. lists only 5 reviews, 4 of them negative, giving a positive review rating of just 20%. Reel Film Reviews gave it 1 out 4 stars. gave it one-half star out of a possible 5. Apollo Guide gave it 56 out of 100 points. gave it 4 out of 5 stars. iF Magazine gave it a "D" letter grade.

Fellow comedian Andrew Dice Clay, whose level of vulgarity is known to exceed even Dangerfield's, co-starred in "My 5 Wives." Clay played Mormon characters in the movie "One Night at McCool's" (2001). Dangerfield played the grandfather of lead character Adam Sandler in the comedy "Little Nicky" (2000), which was production designed by Bro. Perry Andelin Blake. Dangerfield played the female lead character's father in "Natural Born Killers" (1994), which was written by Latter-day Saint screenwriter Dave Veloz.

Articles noting Dangerfield's passing appeared in newspapers around the world. Here is an example:

LDS HOLLYWOOD ACTRESS FLORENCE WOODHOUSE PASSES AWAY - Apparently she was more a singer than an actress. See:
READER: CHARLY A GREAT FILM, WORK AND THE GLORY AND BAPTISTS LOOK GREAT! - Following is forwarded with permission from an mailing list reader:
You'll get flak on calling "Jack Weyland's Charly" one of the truly great films in the history of LDS Cinema -- BUT YOU ARE RIGHT!

I read Weyland's book the Sunday before the film opened. While I enjoyed the book I thought that it was underwritten. The script for the film greatly improved upon the book. The direction, the performances (especially Heather Beers but all were very good), the score and cinematography all came together.

I would rank "Charly" as one of the five best LDS films thus far. Dutcher's BRIGHAM CITY remains my very favorite with his GOD'S ARMY a close second. I would also include SAINTS AND SOLDIERS, THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN and TWO BEST YEARS as being among the best -- that makes six.

The previews for THE WORK AND THE GLORY are very good -- good enough that I have already order tickets for its opening day. Now if the film lives up to the previews. . .

And then there's the opening of BAPTISTS AT OUR BARBECUE next Friday, giving us chance to see Heather Beers once again. I'm crossing my fingers on this one and will be there opening day to see for myself.

All this and the current LDS Church release on DVD of THE RESTORATION (and free with the Ensign) makes for some exciting film experiences!

- Hunter Hale

RYAN LITTLE PASSES ANDEREGG ON TOP LDS DIRECTORS BOX OFFICE CHART - During the last few weeks "Saints and Soldiers" has achieved a high enough U.S. box office total that Ryan Little's career total box office gross ("Saints and Soldiers" combined with his earlier "Out of Step") has passed that of Adam Anderegg ("Jack Weyland's Charly").

Bro. Little's total is $866,539 for his two films. Above him on the chart is Scott S. Anderson, with $ 1,150,968 for "The Best Two Years." Although Anderson's film is still in a few theaters, it is nearing its theatrical run, and it will be released on video/DVD next week (Oct. 12). It is available for pre-order purchase at LDS Video Store ( and will be available at LDS bookstores nationwide, including Desert Book,, etc., as well as in other bookstores and video stores in Utah. "Saints and Soldiers" has still not gone to many of the states and locations planned for it, and it could still pass "The Best Two Years" in box office take. If it does so, it will also have surpassed "Brigham City" (Richard Dutcher) and "The R.M." (Kurt Hale) on the box office chart, but doing so will not push Ryan Little higher on the Directors chart because Dutcher and Hale have helmed other films.

Latter-day Saint film director Rick Schroder's "Black Cloud" debuted in Arizona last weekend, but we do not have box office data for it yet. New to this list in the coming days: Austrian Latter-day Saint filmmaker Christian Vuissa, whose "Baptists at Our Barbecue" premiers throughout Utah today.

Top Latter-day Saint Film Directors
(who are currently directing)

Ranked by Gross Box Office $

1. Kieth Merrill
2. Don Bluth
3. Richard Rich
4. Neil LaBute
5. Bruce Neibaur
6. Perry Andelin Blake
7. Jared Hess
8. Mitch Davis
9. Richard Dutcher
10. Kurt Hale
11. Steven Ramirez
12. Gary Rogers
13. Scott S. Anderson
14. Ryan Little
15. Adam Thomas Anderegg
16. Blair Treu
17. Andrew Black
18. Sterling Van Wagenen
19. Kels Goodman
20. Nathan Smith Jones

* Based on total career North American box office gross

PROTESTANT TELEVANGELIST T.D. JAKES' "WOMAN, THOU ART LOOSED" ADDED TO CHRISTIAN MARKET FEATURE FILMS BOX OFFICE CHART - Famed Texas preacher T.D. Jakes' new film "Woman, Thou Art Loosed" debuted on the Christian Market Box Office Chart with $2.3 million in its opening weekend, and it will quickly surpass Richard Dutcher's "God's Army" on the chart. Some media interviewers have asked Jakes about comparisons to Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," which was also made by a devout Christian. Obviously Jakes doesn't possess the experience and artistry of Gibson, but both movies are likely to attract a similar audience, and both are rated R.

The movie is an adaptation of televangelist Bishop T.D. Jakes' best-selling self-help novel. Jakes co-stars, but did not direct. The novel and film tell the story of a woman ("Michelle") trying to overcome a cycle of poverty, prostitution, drug addition and abuse. Bishop Jakes, playing himself, visits Michelle on death row.

The Passion of the Christ     Mel Gibson                2004  $370,232,710
Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie    Nawrocki/Vischer          2002   $25,571,351
The Omega Code                Robert Marcarelli         1999   $12,614,346
Megiddo: Omega Code 2         D'Angona/Trenchard-Smith  2001    $6,047,691
Luther                        Eric Till                 2003    $5,761,606
The Other Side of Heaven      Mitch Davis               2001    $4,720,371
Left Behind                   Victor Sarin              2000    $4,224,065
China Cry: A True Story       James F. Collier          1990    $4,212,828
The Gospel of John            Philip Saville            2003    $4,068,087
The Judas Project             James H. Barden           1993    $2,850,135
God's Army                    Richard Dutcher           2000    $2,628,829
Woman, Thou Art Loosed        Michael Schultz           2004    $2,325,474
Carman: The Champion          Lee Stanley               2001    $1,765,751
Book of Mormon Movie, Vol. 1  Gary Rogers               2003    $1,672,730
Joshua                        Jon Purdy                 2002    $1,374,143
Time Changer                  Rich Christiano           2002    $1,283,925
The Singles Ward              Kurt Hale                 2002    $1,250,798
The Best Two Years            Scott S. Anderson         2004    $1,150,968
The R.M.                      Kurt Hale                 2003    $1,111,615
Extreme Days                  Eric Hannah               2001    $1,047,553
Brigham City                  Richard Dutcher           2001      $905,073
Jack Weyland's Charly         Adam Thomas Anderegg      2002      $814,666
Saints and Soldiers           Ryan Little               2004      $771,557
Manna from Heaven             Gabrielle Burton          2002      $454,623
Pride and Prejudice           Andrew Black              2003      $372,752
Road to Redemption            Robert Vernon             2001      $236,823
Revelation                    Andre Van Heerden         1999      $206,755
The Home Teachers             Kurt Hale                 2004      $196,123
Mercy Streets                 Jon Gunn                  2000      $173,599
Hangman's Curse               Rafal Zielinski           2003      $136,812
Handcart                      Kels Goodman              2002       $98,666
The Ride                      Michael O. Sajbel         1997       $86,307
Out of Step                   Ryan Little               2002       $80,000
The Work and the Story        Nathan Smith Jones        2003       $14,474

WEB PAGES ADDED TO LDSFILM.COM SITE DESCRIBING HOLLYWOOD MOVIES WITH LATTER-DAY SAINT CHARACTERS AND REFERENCES - A number of pages that explore LDS references in various feature films have been added to the site in the past week. We'll take a moment to remind readers that that is primarily a research site, and these pages are in no way intended to promote the movies being described. If anything, detailed research pages such as these, accompanied by transcripts from the films and still images, should eliminate the need to see the movies at all. Some of these Hollywood movies are probably worth watching, some probably are not. We don't even watch them all ourselves. We are not writing reviews or trying to evaluate the movies. The references and accompanying images can often be extracted without watching the entire movie. These pages are useful for understanding the types of references that have been made. Most LDS movie references are found in one-line jokes or throwaway comments. Latter-day Saints are frequently shorthand for specific concepts. The most frequently encountered iconic meanings are: 1) traditionalist/conservative/highly ethical sexual behavior; 2) polygamy / multiple wives; 3) missionaries.

The primary page for this subject is here:

This page has brief desciptions of over 75 theatrically released feature films with major characters who are Latter-day Saints or based on real-life Latter-day Saints. The page also lists over 50 feature films with minor Latter-day Saint characters and/or references. 16 made-for-television (or cable) movies and miniseries in which one or more characters are Latter-day Saints are also listed. There is another list for documentaries, and an over-flow page with lists such as direct-to-video productions, musicals, and selected printed biographies of real-life Latter-day Saints portrayed in feature films.

This page now features links to dedicated pages about individual movies. Each dedicated page features LDS-related excerpts from sections of actual screenplays and/or movie transcripts, stills from the film and other content.

NEW dedicated "LDS Characters and References in Feature Films" pages have been posted for:
- The Limey (1999, PG-13)
- America's Sweethearts (2001, PG-13)
- Two Weeks Notice" (2002, PG-13)
- Training Day (2001, R)
- Chicago (2002, R)

Other pages have previously been posted online in this series for the films: The Big Clock; Catch Me If You Can; Chaper by the Dozen; Ocean's Eleven (1960); S.W.A.T.; Starship Troopers.

2 NEW OSCAR-WINNING MOVIES W/LDS MAIN CHARACTERS ON BOX OFFICE CHART - We have long listed "Melvin and Howard" on the Feature Films with LDS Main Characters list. But we only recently found the U.S. box office gross for this movie: $4,309,490. This puts "Melvin and Howard" right behind "The Other Side of Heaven" among movies featuring Latter-day Saint main characters. Actually, the name of the Church (both "Latter-day Saints" and "Mormons") are mentioned more times in "Melvin and Howard" than in "The Other Side of Heaven." Most of the main characters in "Melvin and Howard" are Latter-day Saints. The characters are based on real-life Latter-day Saints, and they are explicitly identified as Latter-day Saints in the movie itself. Mary Steenburgen won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for playing "Sister Lynda Dummar." Steenburgen also received the Golden Globe, Boston Society of Film Critics Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, National Society of Film Critics Award and New York Film Critics Circle Award for her role as a Latter-day Saint. Paul Le Mat was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role as Latter-day Saint Melvin Dummar.

ALSO new on this list is ANOTHER Hollywood feature film that most people have heard of, but most Latter-day Saints are completely unaware that one of its main characters is a Latter-day Saint. One of film's main characters is Hannah Green, a Latter-day Saint college student from Provo, Utah who rents a room in the home of the lead character, English professor Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas). Green is played by actress Katie Holmes, who has 5th-billing in the film. Hannah is specifically identified as a Latter-day Saint in the film's screenplay. "Wonder Boys" does not actually explicitly identify its LDS character's religious faith. It does in the screenplay, but the line does not appear in the finished film. Either it was never filmed or (more likely) it was filmed but cut. One of the clues remaining in the film indicating Hannah's background is the Utah licence plates on her car. The plates look out of place when Robert Downey Jr. drives the car in the Pennsylvania city where the story takes place, but the Utah plates actually represent careful attention to detail on the part of the film's prop master or production designer. "Wonder Boys" received an Academy Award for Best Song. It received Academy Award nominations for Best Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay.

The "Wonder Boys" U.S. box office total of $19 million makes it one of the highest-grossing movies ever to feature a Latter-day Saint main character. Of the 7 movies on this list which grossed more than "Wonder Boys," ONLY "Paint Your Wagon" features a Latter-day Saint character who is explicitly identified in the film as a Mormon AND is actually one of the MAIN characters - not just a major character. (The religious background of Oren Monash and Butch Cassidy is never identified by name in "Deep Impact" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", respectively. The "M-word" - Mormon - IS used in "Ocean's Eleven", "Donnie Brasco" and "S.W.A.T.", but the Latter-day Saint characters in these movies are not among the five MAIN characters.)

You may read the "Wonder Boys" screenplay here:

You may read the "Melvin and Howard" screenplay here:

Title             U.S. Box Office Gross   Year  Director
----                    ---------------   ----  --------
Ocean's Eleven             $183,405,771   2001  Steven Soderbergh
Rain Man                   $172,825,435   1988  Barry Levinson
Deep Impact                $140,464,664   1998  Mimi Leder
S.W.A.T.                   $116,877,597   2003  Clark Johnson
Butch Cassidy/Sundance Kid $102,308,900   1969  George Roy Hill
Donnie Brasco               $41,974,656   1997  Mike Newell
Paint Your Wagon            $31,678,778   1969  Joshua Logan
Wonder Boys                 $19,389,454   2000  Curtis Hanson
Punch-Drunk Love            $17,791,031   2002  Paul Thomas Anderson
Family Plot                 $13,200,000   1976  Alfred Hitchcock
Bugs! (IMAX)                $12,989,516   2003  Abby Aron; Mike Slee
Somewhere in Time            $9,070,000   1980  Jeannot Szwarc
Panther                      $6,834,000   1995  Mario Van Peebles
Six Degrees of Separation    $6,410,676   1993  Fred Schepisi
One Night at McCool's        $6,276,532   2001  Harald Zwart
The Other Side of Heaven     $4,720,371   2001  Mitch Davis
Melvin and Howard            $4,309,490   1980  Jonathan Demme
The Covered Wagon            $3,800,000   1923  James Cruze
Messenger of Death           $3,074,000   1988  J. Lee Thompson
Heavenly Creatures           $3,049,000   1995  Peter Jackson
Brigham Young: Frontiersman  $2,700,000   1940  Henry Hathaway
God's Army                   $2,628,829   2000  Richard Dutcher
Riding Giants                $2,184,490   2004  Stacy Peralta
La Resa dei conti            $2,000,000   1966  Sergio Sollima
Goodbye Lover                $1,923,061   1999  Roland Joffe
Book of Mormon Movie         $1,672,730   2003  Gary Rogers
Northfork                    $1,420,578   2003  Michael Polish
The Singles Ward             $1,250,798   2002  Kurt Hale
The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper   $1,214,767   1981  Roger Spottiswoode
The Best Two Years           $1,122,706   2004  Scott S. Anderson
The R.M.                     $1,111,615   2003  Kurt Hale
Wagonmaster                  $1,000,000   1950  John Ford
Brigham City                   $905,073   2001  Richard Dutcher
Jack Weyland's Charly          $814,666   2002  Adam Thomas Anderegg
Latter Days                    $809,475   2004  C. Jay Cox
Saints and Soldiers            $746,539   2004  Ryan Little
Orgazmo                        $582,024   1997  Trey Parker
Mean Creek                     $515,955   2004  Jacob Aaron Estes
The Cremaster Cycle            $514,622   2003  Matthew Barney
Pride and Prejudice            $372,752   2003  Andrew Black
The Home Teachers              $196,123   2004  Kurt Hale
Handcart                        $98,666   2002  Kels Goodman
Out of Step                     $80,000   2002  Ryan Little
The Work and the Story          $14,474   2003  Nathan Smith Jones

LDS ACTORS: CAREER TOTAL BOX OFFICE GROSS - HEDER/RUELL TO PASS KIMMELL - Rapidly moving up the chart: Jon Heder and Aaron Ruell, Latter-day Saint BYU students and stars of "Napoleon Dynamite." As of today, they have probably already passed the career total box office gross of Sis. Dana Kimmell, a devout Latter-day Saint who is now pretty much retired from show business. She did quite a bit of television work, but only poster-billed role in a theatrically released movie was in "Friday the 13th Part 3: 3D", which grossed $36.2 million. Sister Kimmell also had the 5th-billed role in "Lone Wolf McQuade" starring Chuck Norris, which grossed $12,232,628 in 1983, but she was not listed on the poster. Bros. Heder and Ruell will soon have competition from Bro. Rick Schroder, whose lastest film "Black Cloud" starts today. But this movie, in which writer/director Schroder gave himself a poster-billed supporting role, is opening in VERY limited release (starting only in Arizona), so it remains to be seen how much it will add to his career total. After passing Dana Kimmell, Bros. Heder and Ruell will have quite a ways to go before passing LDS Hollywood starlet A.J. Cook ("Out Cold", "Final Destination 2") and Bro. Ken Sansom (the voice of "Rabbit" in Disney's animated "Winnie the Pooh" features), both of whom have starred a pair of films which together grossed more than $60 million. Current industry expectations are for "Napoleon Dynamite" to top out at about $50 million, which means that Heder and Ruell will have to make another movie before moving to that next level.

Plus, don't miss the irony of the fact that two weeks ago young Latter-day Saint actor Nick Whitaker, the star of "Benji: Off the Leash" passed his former director Richard Dutcher on this chart. Whitaker's new movie, in which he receives top billing, has passed the combined total of all three films in which Bro. Dutcher received poster billing: "God's Army", "Brigham City" and "The Work and the Story." Bro. Dutcher gave young Bro. Whitaker his first role in a theatrically released film: "Brigham City," although Bro. Whitaker's part was too small to receive poster billing.

DIFFERENT AD IN UTAH FOR JOHN WATERS' NC-17-RATED "A DIRTY SHAME" - I've seen the Texas newspaper ads for non-LDS filmmaker John Waters' new movie "A Dirty Shame," which has been released with an NC-17 rating. The ads show a fully clothed Selma Blair with grotesquely huge breasts. I guess I'm not the target demographic for this movie, because just that image alone would be enough for me to decide not to go see it, even if I didn't know it was NC-17 and the antithesis of morality as we know it. What is John Waters, anyway, he's like a 9-year-old boy or something... Anyway, he has repeated with a few different interviewers this story about special ads being made just for Utah with reduced breast size. Here's an example. Interview:
OREM-BASED STATE-SPONSORED LDS COLLEGE'S INVITATION TO MICHAEL MOORE SPARKS CONTROVERSY: Numerous newspaper articles and letters to the editor have appeared in newspapers recently about the controversy generated by the invitation of oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore to come speak at UVSC, the Latter-day Saint college in Orem, Utah. This topic has been far-and-away the most discussed subject in the local op-ed pages. Our forwarding of these letters and articles also generated many responses from our mailing list readers.

PRO AND CON: LETTERS GALORE: Here are links to many letters to the editor about this election year's hot film-related topic in Utah. Can I just point out that this topic - Michael Moore coming to UVSC - has been THE dominant topic on the Salt Lake Tribune letters to the editor page. It is also appearing frequently in the Deseret News. It is our policy to forward to our mailing list letters to the editor from these two newspapers relating to LDS film, which is why we forward these: Moore is a wide-recognized filmmaker, and he is coming to speak at a college at which the majority of students are LDS. If the majority of the letters we forward seem supportive of Moore, it is because the majority of the published letters are that way. If we actually took time to tally them all up, however, I believe that the majority of letters are not expressing support specifically for Moore so much as they are expressing support for UVSC's decision to invite him.

These letters cover a number of positions and topics, but I found it interesting that a few people are really beating up on Kay Anderson, the man who offered a $25,000 check from his own money to UVSC to have them cancel the Michael Moore appearance. If you disagree with him, explain your position, but why attack Anderson?? He actually DID something, and offered his OWN money, which is more than most people do. Would these people attacking Anderson have been offended had he offered money to UVSC to prevent a Ku Klux Klan rally from taking place there? No. Their indignation is situational; making the critics of Anderson are hypocrites. Talk is cheap. Anderson exercised his freedom of speech by offering real cash. I don't agree with Anderson's suggestion to cancel Michael Moore's visit, but I certainly respect his initiative and his right to peaceably participate in the process rather than force silence or compliance on people, which is what liberals on college campuses usually do.

Read these recent letters to the editor about Michael Moore's visit, all from the Deseret News (Deseret Morning News) and the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah's highest-circulation newspapers. These letters were written by: Deborah Overmoe (Salt Lake City); Tom Huckin (SLC); Tim Ryan (Holladay); Mark D. Lees (Provo); Rhea Gavry (SLC); Ben Crass (Sandy); Joseph Cyr (Sandy); Carl Whiting (Layton); David M. Anderson (SLC); Bonnie Mackay (Murray); Guy Wheelwright (Holladay); James M. Rawson (Orem); Todd Kassner (Taylorsville); Kalyn Denny (SLC); Sam Klein (SLC); Trevor McIntosh (SLC); Allan Buskirk (Draper); Pat Barnum (Lehi); Liz Swanson (Alpine); David B. Adams (SLC); Michael P. Greer (Sandy); Henry Minchey (Washington, Utah); Mike Parr (Sandy); William A. (Bert) Wilson (Provo); Ed Seith (SLC); Jackie Anderson (Price).,1249,595096266,00.html,1249,595096021,00.html,1249,595095410,00.html,1249,595095428,00.html,1249,595095102,00.html,1249,595094590,00.html

ARTICLES: Here are some of the key new articles and staff-written editorials:








NEW APOSTLE'S COMMENT WHILE PRESIDENT OF RICKS COLLEGE SPARKS LDSFILM.COM DISCUSSION OF R-RATED MOVIES - It started when forwarded comments made by newly appointed Apostle Elder David A. Bednar on the subject of movies. Elder Bednar's comments about movies were made while he was Rick College president, prior to his call as an Apostle (and before Ricks College changed its name to BYU-Idaho). We begin, first with Elder Bednar's comments. Since then, we have received a number of responses and counter-responses, which we will post below and in next week's box office report (in each case, we forward these comments with the writer's permission).

Here is what Elder Bednar said about movies in a Ricks College Devotional:

...double tongued is partaking of the sacrament on Sunday and publicly proclaiming in a testimony meeting a desire to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost--then routinely watching "R" rated and other inappropriate movies and rationalizing that such movies are ". . . ok because they contain just one bad part, and I can handle it."

To fully understand the context for this, please see the full address: IN THE PATH OF THEIR DUTY, Ricks College Devotional, Elder David A. Bednar, September 1, 1998 (

Even an apostle of the church cannot know what is in the heart of an individual. I'm saddened when any member of the church, particularly an apostle, implies that a person's morality can be judged by their taste in art. Only the art of cinema has this stigma surrounding it because it is the only art form that is subject to a ratings board. When I watch a film that happens to have an R rating, I do not say, "I can handle the 'bad' parts." I watch films that I find moving and worthwhile to see regardless of the rating. I do not waste my time watching films with sex and violence for the sake of sex and violence. But if those elements have a legitimate place and purpose for the telling of the story, so be it.

Unfortunately, a great deal of members in the church are shallow and insipid enough to believe that one's taste is an indicator of their morality. This simply isn't so.

Joseph L. Puente

SOME COMMENTS ON THIS SUBJECT FROM LDSFILM.COM'S WEBMASTER: has no editorial stance regarding R-rated movies or what constitutes inappropriate viewing material.

A few personal observations: Obviously Latter-day Saints are strongly commanded to avoid all pornography. This was the topic of President Gordon B. Hinckley's pointed address at the General Priesthood Session of General Conference a few days ago. It is also obvious that pornography and R-rated movies are not the same thing. Many R-rated movies are indeed pornographic. Many are not. My own observation is that in recent years Church leaders and official publications have moved toward more nuanced, content-based admonitions regarding movie choices. Part of the need for this is the fact that many PG-13 and even PG movies are inappropriate for Latter-day Saints to support, and so proscriptions only of movies with R and NC-17 ("X") ratings are inadequate. Also, the "R" rating is only used in the United States. Other countries have different ratings systems.

I personally support completely those Latter-day Saints who refuse to see ALL R-rated films entirely.

Most people who criticize such a choice and choose to watch R-rated movies have themselves never seen the many non-R movies that they should watch BEFORE seeing "Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid" or "Exorcist: The Beginning": I would advise such critics to break free of the mental blinders which prohibit them from looking back more than 10 years into the past so that they could check out Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, The Wizard of Oz, On the Waterfront, Singin' in the Rain, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Some Like it Hot, All About Eve, The Maltese Falcon, Dr. Strangelove, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Annie Hall, High Noon, To Kill A Mockingbird, Double Indemnity, Doctor Zhivago, North by Northwest, West Side Story, Rear Window, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Amadeus, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Third Man and hundreds of other wonderful non-R movies.

I also support completely those Latter-day Saints who do watch some R-rated movies, but make conscientious decisions about what they choose to watch, regardless of rating, based on what they can find out beforehand about the appropriateness of the content along with other factors.

I am fully aware of the fact that if one holds to a personal total ban on all R-rated movies, such a policy means never watching The Godfather, Schindler's List, Psycho, Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Bonnie and Clyde, Apocalypse Now, Taxi Driver, M*A*S*H (at least in their un-edited form). Such omissions may seem unthinkable to a film student - even a Latter-day Saint film student. But, frankly, most Latter-day Saint molecular biologists, accountants, and professional basketball players couldn't care less.

Anyway... this is NOT a big topic for me. My own decisions on this matter are my own and not anything I wish to urge others to subscribe to. has never been a soapbox urging people to watch or not watch R-rated movies. There are MANY, MANY Latter-day Saints - most importantly our duly called Church leaders, but also Latter-day Saint filmmakers, scholars, writers, columnists, etc. - who offer guidance on this topic. But there is nobody else doing the type of research we do with regards to Latter-day Saint filmmakers and Latter-day Saint characters and references in mainstream films. So we choose to write about topics and provide resources that you will not find duplicated in other resources. Enough said.

We completely welcome commentary on this topic, particularly if you have comments that you are willing to share with all of our readers. We will be happy to share comments with or without your name, and with or without your email address, whichever you prefer.

CO-WEBMASTER THOMAS C. BAGGALEY'S COMMENTS - When I was teaching at UCLA, I once had a non-LDS student who knew I was LDS ask me how I could pursue a career as a film composer and not see rated R films. My response had nothing to do with whether it was okay to see rated R films or not, because the fact is that regardless of where I choose to draw the line, there are probably going to be some films with great scores that fall on the side of the line that means I choose not to see them. My response? I simply told her that there were plenty of films with great scores to learn from that I felt were appropriate to see - so many that I would never run out - so for me the fact that there were some films I felt I should not see was hardly an issue. I didn't feel like I'd missed out at all. As members, we sometimes seem so caught up in drawing boundaries. What is okay? What isn't? At what point should I start feeling guilty? It's as if we want to see how close to the edge we can get without falling off the cliff. Let's not forget the many, many great movies that are wholly and entirely appropriate for study and enjoyment. If we get caught up in all that good, we don't even have to worry about where to draw that line - because really, there's not even time to get close to the bad with all the good that's out there. I know it seems like a sin for a film professional to say it, but REGARDLESS of what film you are talking about and which side of that line it's on ... IT'S JUST A MOVIE. So, if I happen to not see it, whatever the reason may be, I can still have a full and complete life without it. I can only think of one exception, and in that one case it's NOT just a movie. 'Nuff said.

I would like to respond Joseph Puente's letter and use it as a springboard to address some thoughts to all LDS filmmakers.

Mr. Puente seems to have the misguided notion that art and morality are separate from religion and morality. Unfortunately, he's not the only one. I remember confronting this issue while a film student at BYU. I recall a conversation between several LDS actresses discussing just how much flesh they were willing to show if they thought the project was right. There should have been NO discussion because we know what the prophets and apostles have taught regarding modesty. And nowhere in their teachings is there an exception that includes tastefully done nudity for the arts. In addition, after partaking of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam and Eve hid themselves from the Lord's arrival because they were naked. Do you see the subtle connection there? They were no longer innocent and knew the difference between right and wrong and went to cover up.

As for those that excuse the watching of a movie because the R rating is due only to graphic violence: they need to read further along in the book of Genesis and find out why God flooded the earth during the time of Noah. It wasn't because people were dropping the "F-bomb," but, in part, because "the earth was filled with violence." Yes, I know the violence in movies is simulated, but so is most of the sexual activity. That doesn't make viewing it any more acceptable.

Elder Cree-L Kofford of the Seventy said, "What difference does it make why it is rated R? The fact is, a prophet of God has said not to go to R-rated movies. That ought to be enough." (Ensign, July 1998, 16).

There are a million and one rationales that a person can use for excusing himself for participating in any activity that is contrary to the teachings of the Church leaders. There may be even more when it comes to R rated movies. But for someone to be "saddened" by the counsel of a Church authority shows a much deeper problem than one's viewing habits.

Heavenly Father has endowed all of his children with gifts and talents. For some it's singing, for others painting, for some writing, and so on. These gifts haven't been given to use separately from our quest to gain exaltation, but to be used in conjunction with that goal. I believe very strongly that the arts are a vital part of life. The scriptures teach us that angels sing. There was a theatre in Nauvoo. One of the first buildings to go up in the Salt Lake Valley was a bowery for entertainment purposes followed by an actual theatre. The Mormon Tabernacle choir was established early on in the Church's history and has been an important part of our nation's culture. Obviously our Church leaders see the need for these things. So to suggest in any way, shape or form that they can't speak out against that which they believe is spiritually damaging is the epitome of prideful thinking. I'd put my trust in a servant of the Lord giving me instruction on how to make it back to God's presence way, way before the teachings of some liberal arts professor!

Like all good things that come from divine conception, the arts have been perverted from an expression of beauty and truth into something ugly. (And this certainly isn't true in all cases.) Another example would be the internet, which has thousands of practical and wonderful uses. It can be educational. It can aid in missionary efforts. It's an awesome tool for genealogy work. But it's also a powerful weapon when used by Satan. People no longer have to leave their home for the adversary to lure them into activities that are immoral and debasing. It comes to them. Just like the internet, how we use our talents determines their value to society. I feel quite confident in saying that the Spirit has never inspired someone to take a photograph, paint a picture, write a song, etc. that is contrary to that which is virtuous, lovely, or of good report.

And since when has nudity, sex, profane language, or graphic violence ever been a necessary element for good art? There are hundreds and hundreds of outstanding films that have never relied on those things. A truly talented writer or director can imply anything he desires without showing it. In fact, it takes absolutely no imagination to elicit an emotional response from someone by laying everything out on the table. And simply because the various entertainment entities have made a habit out of rewarding that which is overtly crass and immoral with awards doesn't make what they're doing of value.

As members of the LDS Church we have a responsibility to be in the world but not of it. To be different. That's not an easy thing to do, but neither is making it into the Celestial Kingdom.

I can tell you from my personal experience working in L.A. that the majority of those I dealt with have a completely different set of morals than I do. I worked with one head of development that told me he "hated" organized religion. I heard another prominent story editor brag about the fact that she wasn't "at all spiritual." The language that many of them use in everyday conversation is enough to make a sailor blush.

I believe there is a huge audience out there that wants something more than the flood of garbage that Hollywood continues to produce. That's why the highest grossing R-rated film is a movie about the Savior. That's why the vast majority of the top grossing films of all time are G, PG, or PG-13. Look at the statistics of what sells on VHS and DVD: family films do the best. People might rent the trash, but they buy the things that have general appeal.

Disney has proven that you can make a quality, entertaining movie without the pollutants.

Remember the Titans, The Princess Diaries, and The Rookie all did over $100 million at the box office and were void of the trash.

I believe as LDS filmmakers we need to set our sights higher than simply making "Mormon Movies." We have a responsibility and a duty to use our talents to help improve the world around us; to give those who want it an alternative to the soulless trash Hollywood cranks out. Joseph F. Smith taught that during the Millennium life will go on much as it is today and that industry will continue. I believe entertainment will still be a part of that existence, but I can guarantee you it won't be the kind of stuff we see coming from the mainstream entertainment industry. Those who are going to be a part of that world then, have to be a part of it while in this world.

One final, more personal note to Mr. Puente. To refer to members of the Church who accept at face value the teachings of the Church leaders as "shallow and insipid" is quite unfortunate. The spirit of contention behind such comments speaks volumes.

Jack Brinkerhoff

LIST SUBSCRIBER RESPONDS TO BRO. PUENTE'S COMMENTS ELDER BEDNAR'S COMMENTS ABOUT R-RATED MOVES: [ mailing list subscriber Nikki Jacob has written this response to Bro. Joseph Puente's comments about R-rated movies and movie content in general. Her comments are posted here with her permission.]

Your comments were interesting, especially the one about willingly watching sex and violence if it pertains to the story. If you and your friends were to sit around watching each other have sex you would be considered perverted. If you were to watch with interest and intrigue someone being brutally beaten, you might be considered deranged, but in cinema it is art? As a film student I have seen many good films get their point across without excessive sex, violence, or offensive language so I know it is possible. While I do realize that the MPAA may not be completely consistent or even accurate in their ratings, if it is good enough for President Hinckley it is good enough for me.

-Nikki Jacob


Regarding the recent discussion of R-rated movies, mailing list reader (Sally) has written the following, which she shares with our readers:

As a parent of two child actors, I have opinions about this subject. Both have turned down auditions that could have advanced their careers were they to book the film, because of content, i.e. language, sexual innuendo etc. We simply will not do those kind of movies. However, there are movies that they would do, that may be violent, i.e. they worked on Handcart, where there was much suffering depicted. There are movies such as Saint's and Soldiers where there is violence, because that is fact.

We have to think for ourselves. I have a philosophy that if I could not sit beside the Prophet comfortably, and watch a movie with him, we do not participate either by my children acting in them, or watching them.

There are so many wonderful movies to see, and if we support those, then more of them will be made. It seems hypocritical for us to want those kind of movies, but when we attend them, the seats are glaringly empty.

I do not judge what others might view, and I make sure that if the movie is a good one, albeit having a scene where there is something that gives it the R rating, yet that something, is historical, i.e. Schindler's List. We will see the movie. I think for myself, and teach my children tolerance, tempered with good judgement.

ELDER UCHTDORF ALSO SPEAKS UP ON MOVIES - German pilot Dieter F. Uchtdorf is the the other of the two newest members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. Here is what Elder Uchtdorf said recently about movies (during the time he was a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, prior to being called as an Apostle):

"Control wisely and select carefully what you will invite via a mouse click or remote control into your home, your dormitory, or your office. Select reading material, movies, TV shows, and any other form of entertainment that bring good, uplifting thoughts rather than unwholesome desires."

The full talk can be found at: