Mary Jane Jones
Media Relations, Excel Entertainment Group
Disney's Exotic Family Adventure
Arrives On Disney DVD and VHS
Walt Disney Home Entertainment Presents
THE OTHER SIDE
Featuring "The Princess Diaries" Star ANNE HATHAWAY
Available on April 1, 2003
BURBANK, Calif., January 29, 2003 * Walt Disney Home Entertainment presents THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN, the true story of a young man's life-affirming journey to the remote island of Tonga, available on Disney DVD and VHS on April 1. This moving, heartfelt coming-of-age adventure stars Christopher Gorham (TV's "Felicity;" "A Life Less Ordinary") and Anne Hathaway ("The Princess Diaries," "Nicholas Nickleby") in an amazing voyage of discovery that will enchant the entire family. Directed and written by Mitch Davis, this inspiring film is produced by Academy Award*-winning* producer Gerald R. Molen ("Schindler's List," "Jurassic Park," "Minority Report"). On Disney DVD for $29.99 (S.R.P.) and on VHS for $19.99 (S.R.P.).
Dick Cook, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, comments "This is a wonderful family film that we at Disney are extremely excited and proud to present. It takes you to an amazing locale and tells a story that touches everyone, young or old."
THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN is the remarkable real-life journey of 19-year old John Groberg (Christopher Gorham), who travels to far-off Tonga in the 1950's to become a missionary. Through personal letters his challenging and remarkable adventures with the Tongan islanders and their culture are shared with the love he left behind, Jean Sabin (Anne Hathaway). The film is based on Groberg's touching memoir of his epic journey, In The Eye Of The Storm.
Shot in spectacular locations around the Cook Islands and New Zealand, THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN used many of the same key technical crew members that worked on "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."
On Disney DVD, THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN includes a "The Making Of The Other Side of Heaven" featurette, audio commentary with director/writer Mitch Davis, and a still gallery.
Street date: April 1, 2003 Direct prebook: February 18 Distributor prebook: February 18 Suggested retail price: $29.99 DVD; $19.99 VHS Feature run time: Approximately 113 minutes Rated:"PG" For Thematic Elements And Brief Disturbing Images. Bonus features unrated and subject to change. DVD aspect ratio: 1.85:1, enhanced for 16x9 screens Sound: Dolby* Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
SIERRA VISTA -- In three years, a growing list of theater-release films featuring characters who just happen to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or centered on church-related themes have hit movie screens across North America, including one such film -- so far -- that has played in Sierra Vista.
Film distributors say two more might follow suit soon.
Among the offerings are: "God's Army," "Brigham City," "Handcart," "The Other Side of Heaven," "Out of Step," "The Singles Ward," "Charly," "The R.M.," "Suddenly Unexpected" and "The Work and the Story."
Many have played across Arizona and the West from Washington to California and Nevada to New Mexico -- sometimes showing up in North American theaters as far away as Ontario, Canada, and in movie houses in sunny Hawaii.
Just as one needn't be Jewish to enjoy "Fiddler on the Roof" or a member of the Greek Orthodox church to relate to the humor in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," one needn't be LDS, more commonly referred to as "Mormon," to enjoy LDS cinema.
In fact, some of the strongest local supporters of the burgeoning LDS film genre are not LDS.
...Goodman isn't the only LDS film distributor considering bringing a movie production to Sierra Vista.
Mary Jane Jones, spokeswoman for Excel Entertainment, said there is a possibility that Sierra Vistans might get the chance to view Jack Weyland's "Charly" without making the trek to the Phoenix area, where it has been playing from Glendale to Mesa since Jan. 24. The movie is a wholesome romance between a New York artist and a college student from Salt Lake City. It is based on Weyland's best-selling novel originally set in the 1980s, but updated for the new millennium.
Again, the ability to convince local theater managers that local support exists will be key in whether or not the movie will be shown in Sierra Vista, Jones said.
Considering the support local congregation members awarded "The Other Side of Heaven" when it played here for 10 days last April, however, chances appear to be good.
Nancy Thornburg and her family, including her 17-year-old daughter Katie, attend the Sierra Vista Second Ward. The family was a major force behind building that support, as well as Brian Manwaring, who teaches the seminary religion class Katie attends daily across the street from Buena High School.
The Thornburgs and Manwaring, at the request of Excel Entertainment, handed out promotional handbills and flyers to friends and associates from Sierra Vista to Douglas to drum up interest. The movie is based on "In the Eye of the Storm," a book by LDS general authority John Groberg, who chronicled unusual missionary experiences in the South Pacific in his book, including brushes with death and a native temptress. A general authority is someone who is part of the church's main worldwide hierarchy based in Salt Lake City.
"I was so tickled we could do anything to promote that movie," Thornburg said. "It was so good. We went twice."
Soon, she'll be able to watch it at home, along with other LDS films in her family's collection. On April 1, Disney will release "The Other Side of Heaven,"starring Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries) and Christopher Gorham, on VHS and DVD.
Nancy Thornburg's loyalty goes beyond uplifting entertainment, which she whole heartedly supports. She roomed one summer at Brigham Young University with one of Groberg's daughters before flying back home with her to Hawaii where she worked for LDS Social Services (now known as LDS Family Services), and often filled in as a baby-sitter for the Groberg's 11 children.
"It is a really good movie," Thornburg said of Mitch Davis' "The Other Side of Heaven." As for the potential local market for "Handcart," "Charly" and any other LDS films that might come along, "People who like a movie with values who know they can sit back and be edified will come," she said, adding that in today's world, she is glad to be able to add LDS movie soundtracks to her daughter's CD collection to help keep Katie on track spiritually.
Manwaring said he hopes major movie houses will take notice of the growing proven market potential for uplifting films.
John Skinner agreed...
The R.M. exapands to Idaho this weekend and hopes to pull in an another strong per theatre average at this top Mormon market.
On the subject of records and PTA's (per theatre averages) The RM set a Mormon movie record [Ed: Yes, we are keeping count] by posting a solid $8,600 average. The other record is that it grossed $130 thousand dollars making it the high grossing opener for the niche. The highest individual weekend for the genre remains The Other Side of Heaven, which pulled off almost $700,000 about a month into release.
Contributed by Numbers reader
(Herald rating: * [1 out of 4 stars])
The best that might be said of this sanctimonious piece of racist drivel is that a few local actors made some money out of it. It's not clear whether the film was funded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), but the production company describes itself as "dedicated to serving the LDS entertainment market" and it's hard to imagine anyone other than a true believer getting anything out of it.
The film, set in the 50s on the Tongan island of Niuatoputapu but shot on the Cooks' main island of Rarotonga and in Auckland, adapts the memoirs of Mormon missionary John Groberg (Gorham). In a smug, saccharine style which makes Disney look like Tarantino, it rehearses notions of the ennobling power of the gospels on heathen savages which are almost surrealistically patronising and, one suspects, profoundly offensive to Tongans. (An end credit-sequence concentrates on the Tongan characters who later "made it" to America.)
We can tell how simple-minded Groberg is since he unburdens himself in voiceover in long letters home to his future wife, Jean (Hathaway), who spends the movie in flowing white dresses walking through fields of flowers like a model in a shampoo ad.
Local audiences might enjoy spotting sequences shot in the town hall and Western Springs. But it is unlikely to appeal to anyone except the faithful who think the Pacific was the devil's playground until those missionaries in ties arrived.
Screening: Village Newmarket and Manukau
God, Yahweh, Allah and Shiva damn the Mormons and their moronic movies. May some vengeful deity condemn those latter-day sinners and their reels of shamefully frittered celluloid (Brigham City, The Other Side of Heaven) to burn eternally in Beelzebub's boiler...
The makers of "The Other Side of Heaven" look forward to the film's video and DVD release on April 1.
"This is a wonderful family film that we at Disney are extremely excited and proud to present," said Chairman of Walt Disney Studios Dick Cook.
Disney did not produce "The Other Side of Heaven," but they are excited to associate their name with the film, "Other Side of Heaven" director Mitch Davis said.
"They told us after the very first screening that they wanted to distribute it on video," Davis said.
Because big-name Disney is the video and DVD distributor, Davis said he holds high hopes for video sale success.
"Disney's acquisition of the film and branding of the movie with their brand name helps validate and legitimize the movie in the mainstream audience," he said. "We always made the movie for a mainstream audience."
Because Disney is the distributor, the film will be available at most video retail stores nationwide. The movie will not be marketed as an LDS film.
"Disney has never seen the movie as a Mormon movie," Davis said.
The film will be distributed both nationally and internationally.
"Surprisingly a lot of Muslim countries are really excited about the movie," Davis said. "The movie depicts people who fervently believe in God and who have strict moral codes by which they live and Muslim by and large, mainstream Muslims as opposed to the zealots or fringe Muslims, live by much the same code," he said.
The movie has contracted to show in countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, China, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates.
Although the movie is not marketed as an LDS film, Davis said it still offers the world increasing knowledge about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Everybody in the world knows who the guys in white shirts are," he said. "But frankly a lot of people don't want to talk to them because they can't relate to them. Hopefully after they see this movie and other movies like it they'll say 'Hey those guys are human; I can relate to them. Maybe they're having a bad day - I ought to invite them in.' Movies are the medium of the masses of this century."
Davis spoke about the challenges of marketing the film.
"The hardest thing throughout this entire process of marketing this movie has been convincing Mormons that this is not a Mormon movie," he said. "The irony is it was not at all hard to convince non-Mormons that this was not a Mormon movie."
Davis said he hopes the video and DVD release of "The Other Side of Heaven" adds to the growing LDS film movement.
"I hope it emboldens everybody to make bigger and better movies," he said.
Davis is currently working with Disney on developing another feature film. Disney may have a future with the LDS movie genre.
Kurt Hale, director and co-writer of "Single's Ward" [sic] and "The RM," said the church does not get officially involved with films about LDS culture.
"The church is very quiet about it," he said. "I think that they have another agenda. Nobody has ever come out publicly and said, 'Hey, we like what you're doing.' "
Privately, members of the church have praised his work, Hale said, but the church wants to remain diplomatic about the various movies.
Mitch Davis, who directed the film "Other Side of Heaven," said he heard nothing from the church, even though the main character, John Groberg, is now a General Authority in the church.
"There was absolutely no input, no interference and no encouragement either," Davis said.
Audiences, however, are recognizing LDS films as a new plausible genre, Hale said.
"A lot of people have had stories to tell for a long time, and now they feel they can do that," he said. "The success of "God's Army" and "Single's Ward" says that you can make the films and get a small profit."
These movies tend to do well in areas with an LDS community such as Utah, Arizona, California and Idaho, but they also attract people who are curious about the LDS Church.
The future of LDS films, Davis said, is making quality movies, even if they will only be seen by other members of the LDS Church.
"The danger is if the LDS market doesn't demand first-class filmmaking," Davis said, "then LDS directors won't make first-class films."