Natl Film Title Weekend Gross Rank LDS/Mormon Filmmaker/Star Total Gross Theaters Days --- ----------------------------- ----------- ----- ---- 3 Murder by Numbers (NEW) 9,307,394 2,663 3 Ryan Gosling (2nd billed star) 9,307,394 R.D. Call (6th billed star) 14 We Were Soldiers 892,201 838 52 Keri Russell (actress) 75,327,562 23 The Other Side of Heaven 379,006 265 129 Mitch Davis (writer/director) 3,538,066 John H. Groberg (author/character) Gerald Molen, John Garbett (producers) Steven Ramirez (film editor) 46 Ocean's Eleven $66,854 48 136 LDS characters: Malloy twins 183,349,128 64 The Singles Ward 33,849 14 80 Kurt Hale (writer/director) 537,598 John E. Moyer (writer) Dave Hunter (producer) Cody Hale (composer) Ryan Little (cinematographer) Wynn Hougaard (film editor) Actors: Will Swenson, Connie Young, Daryn Tufts, Kirby Heyborne, Michael Birkeland, Robert Swenson, Lincoln Hoppe, Gretchen Whalley, Sedra Santos, etc. 79 Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man 11,690 3 717 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 13,215,862 84 Galapagos 10,319 6 906 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 12,600,910 94 China: The Panda Adventure 8,029 5 269 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 2,232,012 111 Mulholland Drive 4,305 7 196 Joyce Eliason (producer/writer) 7,212,548 121 Mark Twain's America 3D 2,599 1 1389 Alan Williams (composer) 2,194,393
Despite total box office dominace by "The Scorpion King", "Murder by Numbers", which stars Latter-day Saint actor Ryan Gosling in the male lead role, opened in the number 3 spot, with a strong $9 million opening weekend. While reviews of the film were mixed, most of the reviewers praised Ryan's performance, even if they didn't give high marks to his co-star Sandra Bullock or the film overall. It appears that he has a promising career ahead of him. "Murder by Numbers" marks the best box office performance of a movie headlined by an LDS actor since "The Fast and the Furious", which opened with a $40 million weekend, followed by 2 more weeks with box office takes over $10 million. "The Fast and the Furious" starred Paul Walker in the 1st billed role.
SINGLES WARD AND FORTUNE COOKIE WIN AT THUNDERBIRD FILM FEST: "The Singles Ward" -- Kurt Hale's comedic look at Latter-day Saint single life -- received 3 major awards at the 2nd Annual Thunderbird International Film Festival, which was held April 11-14, 2002 at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah. "The Singles Ward" won the Best Professional Long Comedy and Best Picture awards, and Kurt Hale won the Best Director (Fiction) Award. "Fortune Cookie," directed by Latter-day Saint filmmaker Clay Essig, won the Karl Malden Award, and also was named as Honorable Mention recipient in the Best Professional Long Comedy category. The producer of "Fortune Cookie" was David Greenlaw Sapp, who is also a producer of Kels Goodman's upcoming feature film "Handcart", and who was the first assistant director and line producer on Richard Dutcher's "Brigham City." Films from around the world, made by filmmakers of all religious and ethnic backgrounds, compete at Thunderbird. The judges at this year's festival were Dan Decker (author of _Anatomy of a Screenplay_), Dr. Lionel Grady, (Southern Utah University Associate Professor of Communication) writer/director/actor Larry D. Eudene ("The Reunion"), screenwriter Chris Conkling ("The Lord of the Rings", "The Emmett Smith Story") and producer/director Gayle Knutson ("Grandfather's Birthday"). The full list of award-winners can be found at: http://www.suu.edu/pva/ta/festival/winners02.html
NELEH WATCH: This week's "Survivor: Marquesas" was an incredible episode, with Neleh doing relatively poorly in challenges, but starting to actually "play the game" for the first time after being on the island for 24 days. And she played brilliantly, which John, the island's self-appointed deposed leader, admitted when he was interviewed by Jane Clayson the next morning in "The Early Show." Simply put, the seemingly unstoppable alliance composed of John the Nurse, Zoe, Tammy, and "General" was toppled by the sudden formation of an alliance between Neleh, Paschal and Kathy, joined by their former across-the-pond rivals Sean and Vecepia. John et al made their fatal mistake when they tipped their hands during the immunity challenge and arrogantly indicated in what order they would get rid of everybody else. This means that Richard Hatch wannabe John is off the island, and Neleh may have a spot in the final five. Stay tuned.
AN ENEMY AMONG US: "Behind Enemy Lines", the blockbuster military action film written by Mormon screenwriter Dave Veloz, was released on DVD this week. The story, set in recent war-torn former Yugoslavia, was loosely inspired by the real life downing and rescue of Utah soldier Scott O'Grady in Bosnia. "Behind Enemy Lines", which stars Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman, was more popular with moviegoers than with critics. It earned over $58 million at the box office, more than Veloz' previous (far more controversial) hit, "Natural Born Killers."
ALMOST HERE: The video/DVD release of Richard Dutcher's "Brigham City" is just days away. Those who saw it in the theaters will no doubt be among the first to buy it. And those who missed it will have a chance to see why "Brigham City" is the most critically acclaimed LDS-themed film ever made.
TRENT THE CENTRIST: The Deseret News printed a great article (http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,380013716,00.html? ) by Jeff Vice about Utah filmmaker Trent Harris, discussing his new film, the serious feature-length documentary "The Cement Ball of Earth, Heaven and Hell." The film proviles former Khmer Rouge soldier Aki Ra, and is a clear departure for the filmmaker known for such Mormon-centric and Utah-oriented fare as "Plan 10 from Outer Space" and the award-winning "Beaver Trilogy." In the article Harris discusses his preference for making films in Utah rather than L.A., and is quoted as saying, "It appears to me that there are a lot of talented people trying to put Utah on the filmmaking map, including this current group of Mormon directors. That's very exciting."
CARD: The official Orson Scott Card website (hatrack.com) has posted Card's answers to questions "about achieving a successful film based on a book." For the record, Card is the author of the best movie based on a novel ever written: THE ABYSS. But Card has gone the other direction, bringing his own fiction to movies, approximately zero times. But that may change soon. In the answers posted, Card says that he is in the final stages of entering a deal with a major studio to make an "Ender's Game" feature, with an A-list director attached. I'm pretty sure it won't be James Cameron, Barbra Streisand or John Waters. In other Card news, his site has just posted a picture of the cover of his upcoming novel SHADOW PUPPETS, which will go on sale August 19th. This is what I will be doing on August 19th at a local bookstore. Me: "Do you have Shadow Puppets in?" Clerk: "Uhm, yes. They're in the back. We haven't put them out yet." Me: "Can you go get me one?" Clerk: "Okay... I'll be right back..." [Gets book and rings it up.] Clerk: "So... You've been looking forward to this..." Me: "Sorry. Gotta go."
HANDCART TIED WITH CHARLY: In the exciting poll over at http://www.ldsfilm.com/polls.html, "Jack Weyland's Charly" is currently tied with "Handcart" (directed by Kels Goodman) as the upcoming LDS-themed feature film the site's visitor's are most looking forward to seeing this year. In other news, "Testaments" and "Mr. Krueger's Christmas" are currently tied in the "Favorite Church-commissioned Kieth Merrill film" poll.
LOOKING OVER THE FENCE: "Joshua" is not a film made by or about Latter-day Saints, but it is definitely a Christian film. "Joshua" may mark a much-needed turn away from movies such as "Left Behind" and "Omega Code," which left serious-minded Evangelicals as well as secular movie critics shaking their heads in dismay. Clearly Christian in orientation, "Joshua" avoids the Armageddon-oriented plots of previous major non-LDS Christian films and tells the story of a miracle-performing man in contemporary times -- a man who might be the Second Coming of Christ. F. Murray Abraham plays the senior priest who brings the stranger to the Vatican. The movie is directed by Jon Purdy, best known previously for directing the 1996 television movie "Unabomber: The True Story," which was filmed in Utah. "Unabomber" starred many Latter-day Saint actors, including Tayva Patch ("Brigham City", "Out of Step"), Scott Wilkinson ("Wish Upon a Star", "Testaments"), Kevin Rahm ("Judging Amy"), Christy Summerhays, Michael Flynn, and DonRe Sampson.
"Joshua" is based on the same-titled novel by Catholic author Joseph F. Girzone. The production company is Crusader Entertainment, which is predominantly Catholic. The book and movie have broad appeal, with a Christian message general enough to apply to Catholics, Protestants, Latter-day Saints, or any other Christians. Evangelical Christians have consistently bemoaned the low quality of Evangelical Christian films compared to films made by Latter-day Saints. Even Evangelicals who are vehemently anti-Mormon and wish to dissuade their followers from seeing LDS films based purely on denominational affiliation have complained that their own camp has been unable to match the cinematic achievements of "God's Army", "Brigham City", and "The Other Side of Heaven." While "Joshua" was not made by Evangelicals, it is at least expected to be a film that many Evangelicals will like. So far the film is showing only in limited release, but there have been some fairly positive reviews. The general public might even warm up to it as well.