Natl Film Title Weekend Gross Rank LDS/Mormon Filmmaker/Star Total Gross Theaters Days --- ----------------------------- ----------- ----- ---- 34 The Santa Clause 2 180,629 296 80 Cinco Paul (screenwriter) 138,695,452 Ken Daurio (screenwriter) 37 Sweet Home Alabama 172,575 219 115 C. Jay Cox (screenwriter) 126,721,462 56 Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man 29,342 5 990 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 14,786,444 78 Galapagos 3,830 3 1179 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 13,899,201 83 Jack Weyland's Charly 2,384 7 115 Adam Anderegg (director) 610,418 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. 90 Handcart 985 2 101 Kels Goodman (director/DP) 70,646 Dave Sapp (producer) Mark von Bowers (screenwriter) Eric M. Hanson (composer) Actors: Jaelan Petrie, Stephanie Albach Chris Kendrick, Shannon Skinner, Gretchen Condie 91 The Slaughter Rule 946 2 10 Ryan Gosling (top-billed actor) 4,039 93 China: The Panda Adventure 855 1 542 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 2,990,981 96 Mark Twain's America 3D 549 1 1662 Alan Williams (composer) 2,294,028
Non-LDS actress Renee Zellweger received the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) for her role in the musical "Chicago." Zellweger won a Golden Globe in the same category two years ago for her title role in "Nurse Betty," directed by Latter-day Saint filmmaker Neil LaBute.
The only Latter-day Saint presenter at this year's Golden Globe show was actor Paul Walker, who was introduced as the star of the upcoming feature film "The Fast and the Furious 2." He presented an award alongside actress Jamie Lee Curtis, the star of many popular movies, including "True Lies" and "A Fish Called Wanda." Referring to the handsome Walker, Curtis shouted, "Ladies, ladies, look what I got in my gift bag!" Further flirting with Walker, Curtis declared she was having an "Anne Bancroft moment."
Adam Sandler was one of the nominees for Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical) -- for his role in "Punch-Drunk Love," in which he plays a man pursued by four Mormon "bill collectors" from Provo, Utah. But Sander lost to Richard Gere, the star of "Chicago."
BROADCAST CRITICS CHOICE AWARDS - The annual Broadcast Critics Choice Awards just concluded this week. Steven Spielberg received the award for Best Director this year, for directing "Minority Report" and "Catch Me If You Can." The two other nominees were Martin Scorcese for "Gangs of New York" and Roman Polanski for "The Pianist." In his brief acceptance speech, Spielberg thanked Latter-day Saint movie producer Jerry Molen, the producer of "Minority Report." Interestingly enough, Molen did not produce "Catch Me If You Can," but he has a small on screen role in the movie as an FBI agent. Spielberg also thanked Bonnie Hunt, another "Minority Report" producer, and Walter F. Parkes, his partner and producer of both. Spielberg also thanked screenwriters Jeff Nathanson and Scott Frank, and named 3 stars of the movies: Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, and Leonardo DiCaprio. "Minority Report" was also honored when the Critics' Choice Award for the year's Best Composer went to John Williams, f! or his work on "Minority Report," "Catch Me If You Can", and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."
THE HEAVENLY NEWS YOU'VE BEEN WAITING FOR - A week doesn't go by that we don't get three or four people writing to us asking when "The Other Side of Heaven" will be coming out on DVD and video. Well, we finally have an answer for you. "The Other Side of Heaven" is scheduled to be released on DVD this coming April. The movie, a true story about a Latter-day Saint from Idaho who goes on a mission to Tonga, was directed by Mitch Davis. It was produced by Academy Award-winning producer Jerry Molen. Aside from "The Other Side of Heaven," Molen's most recent movies include "Minority Report" (which recently earned Steven Spielberg the Best Director Award at the Broadcast Critic's Choice Awards), and "The Legend of Johnny Lingo," which filmed last year on location in the Cook Islands and should be released later this year.
MORE GREAT DVD'S TO BE RELEASED: LITTLE SECRETS AND ULTIMATE X - February 4th is the release date of 2 new DVD releases of feature films made by Latter-day Saints. "Little Secrets" is the award-winning family film directed by BYU graduate Blair Treu, about a suburban violin player whose peculiar secret-keeping business causes unforseen troubles. Beautifully shot in Salt Lake City, this movie was given 3 stars by Roger Ebert. One of the young stars of "Little Secrets" is Latter-day Saint child actress Danielle Chuchran, who will be seen at the end of 2003 in the big-budget feature film "The Cat in the Hat," starring Mike Myers in the title role. Caitlin E.J. Meyer (seen in the "Love Thy Neighbor" film showing at Temple Square) plays another of the main little kids. Also in major roles as the parents of the lead characters are Tayva Patch ("Brigham City", "Out of Step"), Jan Broberg Felt ("Sariah" in the upcoming Gary Rogers Book of Mormon movie), and Rick Macy ("Brigham City"! , "Out of Step", "Someone Was Watching"). Samuel Goldwyn Films handled the theatrical release, and the video/DVD release is distributed by Columbia TriStar. The "Little Secrets" DVD will be available by itself, or as part of a 2-disk package including Blair Treu's movie "Wish Upon a Star." Of all the movies he has directed, I believe these are his two best. Both discs feature audio commentaries by the director.
The other DVD being released on Feb. 4th is "Ultimate X: The Movie." This is an IMAX film photographed by Latter-day Saint Director of Photography Reed Smoot, whose credits and awards are far too numerous to list here. Smoot has been the D.P. on countless Church films, IMAX movies, and documentaries, including films which have been nominated for Academy Awards. "Ultimate X", an ESPN production, gives you an up-close look at extreme sports and X-Games, including large doses of motorcross biking. "Ultimate X" grossed $4.2 million at the U.S. box office. This DVD is rated PG for sports action (and some injuries), and mild language.
CALL FOR ENTRIES - The Gloria International Film Festival to be held in May 2003, West Valley City, Utah. There are categories for screenplays, short films, feature-length films, documentaries, and more. Last year this festival was called the Salt Lake City Film Festival, and, although open to entrants from around the world, featured numerous entries and winners made by Latter-day Saint filmmakers. Mark Goodman's film "Someone Was Watching" won for best feature film, and Scott Tiffany's "Forgotten Voyage," about the Latter-day Saint sea trek that sparked the Gold Rush of 1849, won the award for Best Documentary. For more info, visit: http://www.gloriafilmfest.org/1_festival/index.html.
GOSLING IN THE SLAUGHTER RULE - In its second weekend of limited theatrical release, "The Slaughter Rule" climbed to $4,039 total box office gross, playing once again in just 2 theaters. The independent film, which stars Latter-day Saint actor Ryan Gosling in the lead role as a high school football player, opened last week in 2 theaters, with an opening weekend box office gross of $1,461. "The Slaughter Rule" first appeared at the Sundance Film Festival 1 year ago, in 2002, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. The movie later won the Milagro Award at the Santa Fe Film Festival and was recently nominated for the John Cassavetes Award at the Independent Spirit Awards. At the Stockholm International Film Festival, The Slaughter Rule recently won the coveted International Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Award for Best Feature Film. The movie's cable premier was on the Sundance Channel. If the movie was shown first on cable, it will not be eligible for Academy Award considera! tion. The same thing happened to "The Believer," which also starred Gosling. "The Believer" was shown on the Showtime cable channel before having a limited theatrical release. This year, "The United States of Leland", starring Gosling, premiers at Sundance, and the word on the street is that it already has a distributor -- and many bidders. It is expected to play in theaters before showing on cable.
MORE SUNDANCE - Watching the U of U and BYU basketball games at San Diego State, I couldn't help but laugh as for both games, announcers noticed that during the free throws, fans were holding up large pictures of stars' faces in an attempt to distract the player shooting the foul shot. The reference, of course, is to the famed distraction of the many Hollywood stars who can be found at Los Angeles Laker games. The fact is, there were probably more stars in Park City, Utah this weekend than there were at the San Diego State basketball games. Why? It's time for the Sundance Film Festival. The Sundance Film Festival and the Sundance Institute were originally founded by LDS filmmaker Sterling Van Wagenen and actor/director Robert Redford (a Utah resident who, at the time, was Sterling Van Wagenen's brother-in-law). The festival has grown to become one of the best known independent film festivals in the world.
THE SHAPE OF THINGS - Eric D. Snider, Daily Herald (Utah County) movie reviewer has had an early look at some of the movies premiering at Sundance. He gave Latter-day Saint filmmaker Neil LaBute's new movie "The Shape of Things" a B+, the third-highest grade among the nine movies he previewed. (He rated "All the Real Girls" and "The Thirteen Steps" higher.) About "The Shape of Things," Snider wrote: Writer/director Neil LaBute ("In the Company of Men," "Your Friends & Neighbors") returns to misanthropic form with this wicked lesson in human cruelty. An art major (Rachel Weisz) at a California college takes a nerdy fellow (Paul Rudd) under her wing, cleaning him up into a handsome young hunk -- and taking over his entire life in the process. The direction is unobtrusive and functional. Writing is LaBute's forte, and his dialogue brims with cultural references and personal invective, much of which is caustically funny. But LaBute's intriguing concepts are also the source o! f his stumbling. His writing is such that we are less interested in the characters themselves than in what they might do to each other. The mechanics of the plot are what's interesting, not the people caught in it, and that lessens some of the film's impact. Or, from another point of view, it makes us as uncaring toward the characters as they sometimes are toward each other."
EBERT ON THE SHAPE OF THINGS AND OTHER THINGS - Roger Ebert seems to really like Latter-day Saint filmmaker Neil LaBute's "The Shape of Things." He writes about it in his current report from Sundance. Ebert describes the movie and concludes: "Once again LaBute proves himself one of the most literate, penetrating and darkly humorous of directors." Roger Ebert has been enthusiastic about nearly every LDS-made movie he has reviewed, even those that received mixed reviews. He named "Minority Report" (produced by Jerry Molen) the #1 movie of 2002. He gave 3 out of 4 stars to last year's "Little Secrets" (out on DVD on Feb. 4), although many critics ravaged it. He gave LaBute's "Possession" 3 1/2 stars. He raved about Don Bluth's "Titan A.E.", which received mixed reviews.
ALSO AT SUNDANCE: In addition to "The Shape of Things," a number of films made by Latter-day Saints and/or Utahns are premiering at Sundance this year. "The United States of Leland" starring Ryan Gosling in the title role is in competition, and is rumored to already have a good distribution deal or many offers. "Pipe Dreams" is a documentary made by filmmakers who are natives of Park City, Utah, about winter athletes who are fellow graduates of Park City High School and their quest to compete in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City (dubbed the "Mormon Olympics"). "The Maldonado Miracle" is the directorial debut of acclaimed non-LDS actress Salma Hayek. The movie, about a small town in which a statue of Jesus seems to be shedding real tears, was filmed in Eugene, Utah with a largely Latter-day Saint crew and features a number of Utah/Latter-day Saint actors, including Frank Gerrish (the contruction foreman in "Brigham City", among numerous other roles). Prolific actor F! rank Gerrish is credited with a behind-the-scenes role, as an associate producer, for the upcoming Latter-day Saint-themed feature film "The Work and the Story."
SAINTS AT SLAMDANCE - Okay, this is really a big deal, folks. Jared Hess's film "Peluca" and Andrew Black's film "The Snell Show" are competing in Slamdance, which runs concurrent with Sundance - hence the "dance" motif. There are literally thousands of entries submitted to Slamdance, so the fact that two BYU students have films in the competition this year is pretty phenomenal. "The Snell Show" is playing on Monday 20th Jan. at 10:00 AM and on Wednesday 22nd at 3:30 PM. "Peluca" is playing on Monday 20th Jan. at 8:30 and on Thursday 23rd Jan. at 12:30 PM. All screenings are at the Treasure Mountain Inn, 255 Main Street, Park City. "The Snell Show" also now has its own website at www.thesnellshow.com. Hess was the first assistant camera for the Latter-day Saint-themed feature films "The Singles Ward" (2002) and "The R.M." (2003), and the second assistant camera for the Latter-day Saint-themed feature film "Handcart" (2002) and for the Jericho Road music video "Finding My Way! Back To You" (2002). Hess has an onscreen part as the hip disk jockey at the singles dance in "The Singles Ward" (2002), and he also provides most of the voices for the phone calls in the movie. Andrew Black is a native of Scotland. His short film "The Snell Show" is about nuclear bombs and refreshments. I think. It is based on a short story by a BYU professor. Go see these screenings! You won't regret it.
LIVE IN CALIFORNIA AND WANT TO SEE HANDCART? - Kels Goodman's distribution company is attempting to get "Handcart" into Merced, California, hopefully opening the door to other theaters in California. The theater told him that if there were enough people to call and ask for the film, that they would show it, so he is asking for anyone who has the desire to call the theater in Merced and tell them you are looking for the film "Handcart". (Of course, it is preferable that only people near Merced who would actually go to that theater to make the call.) The theater in question is the Cinema 2 in Merced - 209-722-3370 - the owner's name is Brenda Farley. "Handcart" is currently playing in Idaho Falls and ShowLow, Arizona. Other upcoming dates and theaters already scheduled include Idaho Falls, Idaho (currently playing); FEB 7: Mesa, Arizona - Superstition (6950 Superstition Springs Blvd); JAN 31: Safford, Arizona - All Star Cinemas (555 Entertainment Ave); currently playing in Sho! wLow, Arizona - WME Theater (2321 Victoria Circle); FEB 7: Llano, Texas - Lan-Tex (113 W Main). In Mesa, it will start with only a one week scheduled, so it is crucial to fill the theaters during that week. If it does well, it will stay a little longer. Additional potential future venues include theaters in Kennewick, WA, Richmond, VA, Houston and Dallas, TX, Boise, ID, and Las Vegas, NV.
HANDCART DVD - (From a press release:) Ampersand Films is currently working on a Handcart Special Edition DVD. In preparing the DVD, Kels and company have gone back and revisit the film to see what they could do better. Being that their budget was limited, there were many inaccuracies that have concerned some viewers. To make it fair to the pioneers, they have gone in to make any changes that are within reason. Some of these changes have included inserting scenes that were taken out, shooting pieces that would help the story flow better, and digitally correcting a few mistakes. This will make for an interesting DVD, especially for LDS Cinema. The DVD will also include an hour long documentary on the making of the film, from fund raising to location scouting, from garage techniques in filmmaking to the massive costuming effort, and from the theatrical release to the special edition footage. It will also touch on the current status of LDS Cinema. There will also be previews of! other films, possibly the upcoming action picture "The Last Eagle Scout", directed by Kels Goodman. Since Handcart is still in its theatrical run, no date is set for the DVD and VHS release. Possibly by Summer.
MOVIE AUDITIONS - Auditions are coming up for Tucker Dansie's feature directorial debut, "Love Logs On," and a new short film. If you aren't familiar with Tucker's work, you should check it out. Very impressive production quality. You can see numerous of his short films for free online, just by going to http://www.tuckertdansie.com/ or his Life's Little Lessons website. Go see "Two Dimes and a Nickel" there. It's very short, but high-quality. His Wooden Bowl movie is the next in the series. If you're a talented actor and can get a job in his upcoming short film, you'll have a nice video to include on your reel. "Love Logs On" is the first feature film announced so far which features LDS characters but doesn't revolve around the fact that they're LDS. It doesn't have a big budget, but it sounds fun and sounds like it might actually have cross-over appeal. Also, note that "Love Logs On" T-shirts, mugs, and other items can now be purchased from the official website. The dates for the open auditions which will be announced mid-March, but Dansie is inviting serious prospects to contact him ahead of time. Auditions for "The Wooden Bowl" will be held on Saturday the 25th. Go to www.oneoflifeslittlelessons.com for details, sides, and audition times.
NOCAL LDS FILM EVENT FEATURES NORTHERN CALIFORNIA PREMIERE OF OUT OF STEP - As part of the ArtLight Concert/Art Series, the ArtLight Best of LDS Film Festival is scheduled for February 1. Featured will be a few hours of film shorts with an evening showing of Out of Step -- the Northern California premiere. Earlier in the day, "Forgotten Voyage", "Roots and Wings", Nate and Matt Fackrell's Mountain Meadows Massacre documentary, and selected shorts from the LDS Film festival, including Hess and Black's films will be shown. All of these are excellent films, so this is an opportunity you will not want to miss. Also coming up, will be a "Voice From the Dust" Evening with Peter Johnson and Steve DeVore on February 21 in Citrus Heights, CA.
MERRILL ON BOOK OF MORMON MOVIES PARTS 2, 3 AND 4 - Kieth Merrill's follow up to his previous Meridian article is now online. "Are you Ready for the Book of may shock you. Definitely not a fluff piece. Part 3 can be found at http://www.meridianmagazine.com/arts/030120movie3.html. Part 4, which is basically a sampling of the different kinds of responses that readers sent to Merrill, can be found at http://www.meridianmagazine.com/arts/030122movie4.html.
DOCUMENTARY REVIEW - Chris Hicks of the Deseret News has written a detailed and very positive review of the new documentary "Truth & Conviction," about Helmuth Hubener. Hubener was the 16-year-old Latter-day Saint who opposed Hitler during the rise of Nazi Germany and was ultimately executed. The documentary was created by local Latter-day Saint filmmakers Matt Whitaker and Rick McFarland. See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,450026743,00.html
NEW REVIEW OF CHARLY - by movie reviewer Steve Rhodes. 2.5 stars out of 4. Rhodes opens with the paragraph: "I have to confess that I'm a fan of Mormon movies, a tiny genre that flies below the radar screen of most critics. Their production values are high, being handsomely shot, warmly scored and well acted without a trace of Hollywood pomposity. They are also naturally funny, with characters never ashamed to laugh at themselves." See: http://us.imdb.com/Reviews/338/33852
Rhodes on other movies (all out of 4 stars):
Brigham City: 3.5 out of 4
The Other Side of Heaven: 2.5 out of 4
The Singles Ward: 3.0 out of 4
God's Army: 8 out of 10
ARTICLE ABOUT HEATHER BEERS - A detailed article about Heather Beers and her movie "Jack Weyland's Charly" was published in the Orange County Register on 22 January 2003. The very positive article, published days ahead of the movie's release there, notes that Beers is a native of Orange County.
CHARLY IN ANCHORAGE - From Anchorage Daily News: Be among the first to watch 'Charly'. A big-budget movie based on Jack Weyland's best-selling 1980 novel, "Charly," will hit the screens nationwide on Jan. 24. But Anchorage will get a rare screening of the story about a philosophy student (played by Heather Beers, above) who shelves Plato to become an Avon lady in order to support her family. Be among the first in the nation to catch this PG film of romance, family and cultural conflict at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, at the Dimond Center.
LDS CINEMA IN THE NEWS - A new article about the LDS cinema genre in general, but with particular focus on "Charly," can be found in the Idaho State Journal: http://news.mywebpal.com/partners/669/public/news419112.html
KUSHNER'S ANGELS IN AMERICA: The New York Times (19 January 2003) published the following about the upcoming HBO miniseries adaptation of Kushner's Pulitzer-winning LDS/GLBT play: [QUOTE] A decade after Tony Kushner's groundbreaking play about the politics and emotions of the AIDS crisis arrived on Broadway, it returns to a different social landscape. Mr. Kushner has adapted the two parts of his play, "The Millennium Approaches" and "Perestroika," for HBO's six-hour production, scheduled for fall or winter and by far the most artistically promising and starry television event of the year. Directed by Mike Nichols, the cast includes Al Pacino as the homophobic homosexual Roy Cohn, Meryl Streep as a pill-popping Mormon housewife with a closeted husband and Emma Thompson as the Angel who serenely comments on it all. Film may suit Mr. Kushner's blend of the real and the feverishly imagined even better than theater. [END]
AN OSCAR FOR LINCOLN HOPPE? It may be unlikely, but Lincoln Hoppe IS eligible for an Academy Award nomination, and if you get a ballot you COULD nominate him for Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor. But NOT for his role as "DeVerl" in "The Singles Ward." No, you can only vote for him for "The Princess and the Pea," which you probably have not seen. The Academy Awards official Reminder List of Eligible Releases for Distinguished Achievements During 2002 can be found at: None of this year's live-action feature films which had predominantly Latter-day Saint casts were included on the eligible list: The Singles Ward, Out of Step, Little Secrets, Jack Weyland's Charly, and Handcart. "Out of Step," "Handcart" and "Charly" were not commercially screened in Los Angeles during 2002. "Little Secrets" had a major distributor and played in L.A., but may have had eligibility problems because if it first screened in some festivals during 2001. "The Singles Ward," although certain not to b! e nominated for anything, could have been on the eligible list, because it premiered in 2002 and was shown in Los Angeles during the year. "God's Army" and its entire cast, for example, were on the eligible list for 2000. Filling out whatever forms are necessary to get on the Academy Awards eligible films list is a good idea even if a movie will not win anything because the list is a source of database records, video store orders, etc.
As far as we know, the only movies on the Eligible List which were directed by Latter-day Saints are "Possession," "The Princess and the Pea" and "The Master of Disguise." That's 3 out of the 276 eligible moves: only 1%. To have parity between the proportion of LDS directors and the proportion of Latter-day Saints in the U.S. population there should be at least 5 movies out of 276. Had the 4 "LDS Cinema" movies released this year been added to the list of eligible movies, the percentage of LDS-directed films would be at 2.5%.
Aside from directors and actors... "The Santa Claus 2" was written by Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul. "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" was written by past Academy Award nominee Mark Andrus. Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker wrote the closing credits song for "The Mothman Prophecies." Senator and songwriter Orrin Hatch wrote "Everyday Heroes" for the movie "Joshua," but the movie isn't on the eligible list. (Hatch also wrote a song for the eligible movie "Stuart Little 2," but the song is only on the soundtrack CD, and is not actually in the movie. There are also a number of eligible but equally unlikely-to-be-nominated people in other categories such as production design, special effects, etc.
Probably the most likely Latter-day Saint to be nominated for an Academy Award in a major category this year is Neil LaBute -- not as the director of "Possession" but as the writer of the screenplay. I've actually read this book. It is surprisingly entertaining and interesting, but very complex. To adapt it for film is a remarkable achievement. Many critics singled out the screenplay as one of the movie's strongest features.
A longshot is a Best Picture Academy Award nomination for previous winner Gerald R. Molen, as producer of "Minority Report." Roger Ebert thought it was the best movie of the year, but the Academy usually prefers Best Picture nominees to be less genre-esque. In some years this movie might have had a chance, but with a raft of December contenders such as "The Hours," "Chicago," "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers", "Catch Me If You Can," "Gangs of New York" and "The Pianist", the Molen/Spielberg/Cruse/PKD sci-fi thriller will almost certainly be muscled out. Definitely expect some technical and special effects nominations for "Minority Report," however.
A Best Actor nomination for Aaron Eckhart for "Possession"? Don't count on it. I think people are still peeved that he isn't British. More likely would be a surprise nomination for Adam Sandler for his role being beat up by and beating up Mormons in "Punch-Drunk Love." But I don't think that will happen, either.