Natl Film Title Weekend Gross Rank LDS/Mormon Filmmaker/Star Total Gross Theaters Days --- ----------------------------- ----------- ----- ---- 13 Final Destination 2 1,892,344 1,204 31 A.J. Cook (2nd-billed actor) 43,0030,540 27 Poolhall Junkies (NEW) 301,856 179 3 Rick Schroder (5th-billed star) 301,856 Filmed in, set in Salt Lake City 54 The R.M. 37,943 14 31 Kurt Hale (writer/director) 471,548 John E. Moyer (writer) Dave Hunter (producer) Cody Hale (composer) Ryan Little (cinematographer) Actors: Kirby Heyborne, Will Swenson, Britani Bateman, Tracy Ann Evans Merrill Dodge, Michael Birkeland, Maren Ord, Leroy Te'o, Curt Dousett Wally Joyner, etc. 57 Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure 35,307 10 752 Scott Swofford (producer) 14,095,268 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) Sam Cardon (composer) Stephen L. Johnson (editor) 65 Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man 19,827 4 1032 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 15,025,965 78 Jack Weyland's Charly 7,684 12 157 Adam Anderegg (director) 775,742 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. 84 Galapagos 4,171 5 1221 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 13,945,214 88 Handcart 2,613 1 143 Kels Goodman (director/DP) 87,916 David Greenslaw Sapp (producer) Mark von Bowers (screenwriter) Eric M. Hanson (composer) Actors: Jaelan Petrie, Stephanie Albach Chris Kendrick, Shannon Skinner, Gretchen Condie 92 China: The Panda Adventure 1,095 1 584 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 3,001,280
HANDCART'S GREAT WEEKEND - Kels Goodman's epic pioneer film Handcart had an exceptional weekend at the theater. Playing in only one theater, the film grossed $2,613, giving it an impressive per-theater average, although not nearly as high as the nation's per-theater champs, such as "The Lawless Heart" with $10,749 in one theater and "Fassbinder" with $9,804 in one theater. "Handcart" played only in Virginia this weekend, in the area where director Kels Goodman grew up, so there may have been something of a hometown crowd. But not to be dismissed is the large Latter-day Saint community in the area and the presence of Southern Virginia University (an independent Latter-day Saint college). The film's attendance was no doubt boosted by Kels speaking at Southern Virginia University and at a bi-stake fireside. "Handcart" will continue to play in the area for a couple more weeks, and several youth groups are planning to go during the week, so the movie's total box office gross will continue to climb.
Also worth noting, the weekend's take brought Handcart's box office total to $87,916, which means it is no longer on the bottom of the Christian market box office total chart. A Protestant movie, "The Ride" (1997), is now the lowest grossing movie on that chart. "Handcart" has moved up to be second from the bottom. Handcart's theatrical run will be concluded soon, and it probably will not climb up another notch on that chart. It probably will not surpass "Mercy Streets" (2000), which has a total box office gross of $173,599. However, plans are in the works for the film to hit Dallas and Las Vegas before moving into distribution via DVD and video. The Christian market box office chart is at: http://www.adherents.com/movies/christian_box.html
Also, "Jack Weyland's Charly" continues to go head to head with "Time Changer", also currently playing in theaters. The two movies are only within about $3,000 of each other. And the production budget and P/A for both is believed to be roughly the same. Quite a contest.
Handcart's strong showing in Virginia was also helped by a very positive article in the Times-Dispatch, a Richmond, Virginia area newspaper. The article touches upon Goodman's background, the historical background for the movie, and the film's distribution. If you are interested in the subject of independent film distribution and promotion, definitely read this article, which can be found here: http://homes.timesdispatch.com/flair/MGB5UWAEPCD.html
JSI CREATIVE ANNOUNCES COMPLETION OF "ROADSHOW!" SCRIPT - From a press release from JSI Creative: J. Scott Iverson, writer, producer and owner of JSI Creative, today announced the completion of his latest, LDS-themed, full-length motion picture screenplay, ROADSHOW!
The storyline follows members of the Yorgason family during the production of the "Gilmer Park Ward" roadshow in the summer of 1965 - a time of war, personal turmoil and new assaults on family values, which arose during that decade. The screenplay celebrates the LDS roadshow genre and creative process, which draws from events in people's lives and weaves them into works of art: sometimes simple, sometimes profound; always impactful on the lives of those who participated in the act of creation. ROADSHOW! contains both dramatic and comedic elements that will appeal to a broad range of moviegoers.
"We were able to weave excerpts of an actual roadshow from the era into the script, which give it a much more authentic feel," said Iverson. "And while the roadshow production is important to the story, the central theme is how each of us must endure the hardships life throws at us to gain our own personal testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
The film is currently in the financing and development stage.
Iverson, perhaps best known for his story credit on the ever-popular LDS film, Mr. Krueger's Christmas, starring Jimmy Stewart, as well as his Emmy and Iris Award-winning kids' TV series, ZiNj-TV, recently served as Vice President of Acquisitions, Development and Productions for Bonneville Worldwide Entertainment. More information on JSI Creative is available at: http://www.jsicreative.com
SMOOT MILESTONES - "Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man" passed $15 million mark while "China: The Panda Adventure" passed $3 million mark this weekend. Both films feature Reed Smoot as the cinematographer. Last weekend, another Smoot film, "Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure" passed the $14 million mark. All told, films with Reed Smoot as the cinematographer have grossed over $420 million in the U.S. -- and this only includes those films where gross receipt totals are available. As a large number of his films are IMAX films, many of which do not report box office totals, it can be assumed that the actual total may be much higher even.
AML AWARDS FOR FILM - "Roots & Wings", written by Agustina Perez and directed by Christian Vuissa, has been awarded the AML Award for Film. This award has only been given once before -- to Richard Dutcher's "God's Army." The AML Awards prestigious, juried awards given each year by the Association for Mormon Letters only to works of literature (and some film) which exhibit artistic excellence and contribute significantly to Mormon Arts and Letters. Awards are not given in a given category if the AML finds that no works during the year merit receiving an AML award. Last year no Film Award was given for works released in 2001. Editorial note: We have seen "Roots and Wings" and feel that it is very deserving of this high honor. More information can be found on the AML website: http://www.aml-online.org
Also honored by AML this year: "Out of Step", directed by Ryan Little, and "The Snell Show", directed by Andrew Black, were cited for Honorable Mention in the film category. "Charly" screenwriter Gilbert was given an AML Award for Film Adaptation.
POOLHALL JUNKIES - "Poolhall Junkies" opened in a fairly wide "limited release" this weekend, grossing $301,856 in 179 theaters, good enough for the #27 spot nationwide on the total gross chart. Mars Callahan was the writer, director and star of the movie. The biggest name actor in the movie is probably Christopher Walken. The 5th-billed star in the movie is Rick "Is he or isn't he?" Schroder (star of "Silver Spoons" and couple seasons of "NYPD Blue"). The movie was filmed in Salt Lake City, and features such Utah and/or Latter-day Saint actors as Frank Gerrish ("Brigham City") and Shannon Engemann ("Wildest Dreams"). As for whether he is or isn't, we think we know, but we're not saying.
POOLHALL JUNKIES REVIEWS - Salt Lake Tribune gives it 2 out of 4 stars. The movie will still be opening in many additional markets, but as of this writing, RottenTomatoes.com currently has counted 22 reviews and shows a 22% positive rating for it. Slant Magazine and a couple of others gave it largely positive reviews. Deseret News reviewer Jeff Vice didn't like "Poolhall Junkies" very much. Quoting from his review: "...the cinematic equivalent of a train wreck... Because the film was almost completely shot in Salt Lake City and surrounding areas, it's an embarrassment for Utah as well... Perhaps the film's only saving grace is that it's overwhelmingly hilarious in its ineptitude... The film's four-letter-word-peppered, tough-guy dialogue pegs it for what it is: another Quentin Tarantino wanna-be, albeit one that's nearly 10 years too late." If you actually read his review or watched his show, you know that Ebert gave "Poolhall Junkies" a somewhat tepid "thumbs up." In his Chicago Sun-Times column he gave it 3 out of 4 stars. Ebert said: "One of the things I like best about 'Poolhall Junkies' is its lack of grim desperation. Its characters know that pool is a game and do not lead lives in which every monent is a headbutt with fate... 'Poolhall Junkies' has big moments of inspiration, like the Walken speech and a couple of other monologues. It has movie-fan moments... There is an innocence at work here that reminds me of young Sylvester Stallone... Did I feel afterward as if I had been dragged through the blood and grime of the mean streets? No, but I felt like I had a good time at the movies."
GLORIA FILM FESTIVAL - This is a reminder that submission deadlines for the Gloria Film Festival are March 15th, only about 11 days away. If you haven't submitted your film but have been planning to do so, please do so soon. Also, there are still opportunities to serve as a volunteer. Remember this is a VERY family-friendly and faith-friendly film festival. Last year's winners include Mark Goodman's "Someone Was Watching" feature and Scott Tiffany's "Forgotten Voyage" documentary. See http://www.gloriafilmfest.org/ for more information.
ECKHART MAY STAR IN PAYCHECK - Latter-day Saint actor Aaron Eckhart is in talks and favored to co-star with Ben Affleck in "Paycheck." Directed by John Wo, the director of "Mission: Impossible II" and "Broken Arrow", both filmed partially in Utah. The sci fi action film based on a story by Philip K. Dick is looking at an April 3 start date, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "Paycheck" would be Eckhart's 3rd movie with Paramount, after the sci fi drama "The Core" and the recently wrapped New Mexico-filmed thriller "Suspect Zero." Set in the future, "Paycheck" is about on a man (Affleck) who has had part of his memory erased as he begins to find clues to what he has been doing for the past two years. Eckhart would play the second-billed role of Rethrick, a man who persuades Jennings to give up two years of his life. The script was adapted by Dean Georgaris ("Tomb Raider 2") from Philip K. Dick's story. The last Philip K. Dick adaptation to hit the screens was "Minority Report," directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Latter-day Saint movie producer Jerry Molen.
For the record, Philip K. Dick's story "Paycheck" does NOT have any LDS characters or Utah references, although about half of of Philip K. Dick's books DO have Latter-day Saint characters or references to Utah. PKD stories/books with Latter-day Saint and/or Utah references include: The Game-Players of Titan; Puttering About in a Small Land; The Broken Bubble; Time Out of Joint; In Milton Lumky Territory; Deus Irae; The Game-Players of Titan; Valis; Radio Free Albemuth; "Orpheus with Clay Feet"; The Dark-Haired Girl; The Man in the High Castle; Ubik; "The War with the Fnools"; Time Out of Joint; The Golden Man; The Zap Gun; The Penultimate Truth; "Precious Artifact"; Now Wait for Last Year; Our Friends From Frolix 8; Mary and the Giant; The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. But PKD himself was a faily active Episcopalian. In fact, he frequently wrote extensively about his visits to his Episcopalian clergyman. "Paycheck" doesn't really refer to any religious groups, except for an oblique reference to the Catholic Church.
AVID EDITORS NEEDED - We have been asked to forward the following request:
We are a busy production company looking for freelance AVID editors. If you know of anyone looking for work will you please e-mail Tyler Measom at email@example.com, or have them e-mail Tyler his/her resume ASAP. Thank You.
1 East Center Street
Provo, UT 84606
DESERET NEWS ON RACHEL KIMSEY - Article in Deseret News about Latter-day Saint actress Rachel Kimsey, who is currently starring as "Daphne" in the nationally touring stage production "Scooby-Doo in Stagefright Live on Stage" Kimsey previously had major roles in Clay Essig's independent film "Fortune Cookie" and the Disney movie "Don't Look Under the Bed."
SAMUELSEN AT THE AML CONFERENCE - Deseret News article reporting in BYU drama professor and frequent commentator on/critic of LDS Cinema Eric Samuelsen's address at last weeks Association for Mormon Letters conference. Samuelsen discusses "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and compares the movie to LDS movies such as "The R.M.", "Singles Ward", "Charly." Samuelsen thought "his ideas went over big at the Mormon Letters conference." According to the article, Samuelsen "wasn't intending to write a screenplay when he began his scholarly paper, but the response now has him considering it." Samuelsen has written critically acclaimed stage plays. He has received the AML Award for drama three times: for "The Way We're Wired", "Gadianton" and "Accommodations: a Play in Three Acts ."
AMERICAN IDOL: VOTE TONIGHT - Last week, it was announced on the TV show "American Idol" that Carmen Rasmusen, a 17-year-old from Bountiful, Utah, was brought back to the show after being cut from the top 200 or so. She was chosen as one of the judges' nine favorites to be on the "wild card" show next week. The top four from those on that show will be placed in the Top Twelve. In her profile on idolonfox.com, she says that she is "a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." The "American Idol" episode featuring Rasmusen aired on Tues. Mar. 4 at 8 PM/7 central on Fox. Simon didn't like her performance much, and neither did Paula Abdul or Randy. But it's the votes that count! For two hours after the show (9-11/8-10 central), America was able to vote for the contestants by calling the toll-free number. The results show were shown the next day, on Wed. Mar. 5 at 8:30 PM/7:30 central (which is tomorrow). Detailed articles about Rasmusen were published in the Utah County Daily Herald, BYU Daily Universe, Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune.
CHRISTENSEN'S LATEST FILM SCREENED - Legendary filmmaker T.C. Christensen screened his latest film, the short film "A Pioneer Miracle" (14 min.) to a by-invitation-only audience on Tuesday, Feb. 25th. LDSFilm.com representatives were invited but due to prior obligations we were regrettably unable to attend the screening, which took place at the North Visitors Center on Temple Square. The film stars Caitlin E.J. Meyer ("Littl Secrets) and the production designer was Darin Andersen ("Handcart", "Y2K").
Christensen is the director of numerous Church films, including the new "The First Vision" and Kirtland Visitors Center films, as well short films such as the beautifully filmed "The Touch of the Master's Hand" and the classic "The Pump." He has directed the direct-to-video feature films "Bug Off!" (which is hilarious, and a wonderfully made low-budget movie) and "The Penny Promise" (which I haven't seen). But Christensen is better known as a Director of Photography, and has shot more than 50 Church films, IMAX films and other films.
ACTORS ACADEMY - We are forwarding the following notice. We have no additional information about the event or the Actor's Academy, but contact information is provided for those with questions.
The Actor's Academy
Thurs. March 6th 6-9 p.m.
Join the class and see our works in progress.
Audition for the Spring '03 workshop.
5282 S. 320 W. B-227, SLC Cedar Park Complex. B-228 faces freeway.
801-392-1973 Rick Macy, Director/Instructor
801-969-8764 Dawn Kalana, Assistant
[Macy, as you already know, is one of Utah's most prolific screen actors, and has had starring or supporting roles in films such as Someone Was Watching, Little Secrets, Bug Off!, Brigham City, Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd, Message in a Cell Phone, Return to the Secret Garden, and Secret of Treasure Mountain. Kalana was one of the producers of "Out of Step."]
FROM MICHELLE WRIGHT AT ACTION ACTOR'S STUDIO: For all actors, Utah is the third biggest state for film production. We have a Hallmark film coming soon and a SAG Feature Film that I will be casting - also, "Ecto" is casting this week for their project - and I just sent out 4 audition notices to those on my casting database.
TMACCESS - 27 Feb. 2003:
FORUM: The BYU Animation Program presents TOM SITO, Animation director of "Osmosis Jones" and former President of the Animation Union, who will be discussing the state of the animation inustry on Friday, Feb. 28 from 1-3 p.m. in the MOA Auditorium. Tom's credits include: The Lion King, Aladdin, The Prince of Egypt, Antz, Shrek, and Spirit.
Final Cut 2003: Mini DV are due March 3. Contact Roxanna Boyer with questions. Final Cut 2003 will be held March 18-22. Long venues will be shown separately but will not be judged.
Brad Barber's "Troy through a Window" wil be presented at a special one-time screening at the Tower Theatre in Salt Lake (876 E. 900 S.) on Saturday afternoon, March 1, at 1 p.m. Admission is $5 cash or check and there will be a Question and Answer session to follow. The film explores a Latter-day Saint family's attempt at understanding the homosexuality of one of its members.
Final Cut 2002 DVDs are available to students for a $5 donation to the Dean's discretionary fund. Donations will be matched 5 times by outside donors. Your $5 becomes $30! Donations accepted in the TMA Office, D-581 HFAC.
Student Production Agency is looking for production crew members for current and future projects. Contact Juston Rindlesbach is interested (378-8454).
Production Assistants needed at the Waterford Institute in Sandy, Utah, to help with video production over the next two months. For information, contact Kelly Fisher at 801-576-4981 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Park City Television is producing a new show called Wild Wild Sports and are looking for Wild Sports Videos, Extreme Sports, Videos of Crashes or Bloopers, Fun Sports and most any Action Sports Video that are professionally shot and edited. Call 435-649-0045 with questions.
2003 Pearl Awards is accepting applications for interns in Camera/Video, Audio, Lighting, Set/Production Design, Production, and Post-production. Find out more info from Elizabeth in D-581.
"The Collectors" will be holding auditions on March 1 from noon to 6 p.m. in the American Fork Library (64 S. 100 E., American Fork). This is a low budget martial arts film written and directed by John Lyde. Looking for actors and fighters to participate in the film. For more information, go to www.jklentertainment.com
SUMMARY OF ARTICLE IN CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL ABOUT LDS CINEMA - There is a great 3-page article about LDS Cinema in the Protestant-run Christian Research Journal, Vol. 25, Number 2, in the News Watch section beginning on page 6. The article begins by recounting how ads for "The Other Side of Heaven" appeared in Protestant-run publications, such as San Diego's "Southern California Christian Times" and 3 other Southern California papers owned by Exalt Inc.
The ads featured pictures of Latter-day Saint missionaries, but didn't explicitly identify that the movie was about Latter-day Saints. Some readers complained to the publication after going to see the movie and finding out it was about Latter-day Saints. (The article doesn't mention this, but according to letters to these publications, other readers went to the movie and loved it). The Christian Times apologized for running the ad, and said they would check out movie ads more carefully in the future.
The article in the Christian Research Journal goes on with comments from an interview they conducted with "Other Side of Heaven" director Mitch Davis. Davis points out, "One of my specific desires was to make an ecumenical film. We don't preach any Mormon doctrines, although we make it clear that he's a Mormon missionary." Davis points out that when he was growing up many of his closest friends were evangelicals, and he says that he thinks relations will improve between Latter-day Saints and Protestants over the next few decades: "We will look back on this era [of bigotry from Evangelicals toward Latter-day Saints] with as much disdain and disgust as we look back on the treatment of blacks in the South."
The article also quotes Mary Jane Jones, P.R. person at Excel Entertainment: "While 'The Other Side of Heaven' does tell the story of one missionary of a particular faith, the experiences he has and the lessons he learns are accessible to all people. This movie is no more a Mormon film that 'The Mission' was a Catholic film."
The article points out that "The Other Side of Heaven" garnered a positive review from www.PreviewOnline.org, an online film review service distributed through Gospelcom.net and other Protestant sources.
There are more comments from Davis about how he tried to depict Protestants in his movie positively, and how the movie's lead character has universal problems that Protestants can relate to.
The article then quotes Bill McKeever, a representative of an anti-Mormon hate group called Mormon Research Ministry. McKeever says: "While I would defend anyone's right to produce a film taht is favorable to his or her worldview, there is a problem with how this film is being marketed. Whoever was in charge of the promotion of the film was very determined to makeit difficult for the general public to know of its Mormon themes. Some might call that good marketing strategy; however... I just can't help but think that this was a bit of, for lack of a better word, deception."
Whatever. Since the day the movie was announced a websearch would have found ample information on LDSFilm.com that the movie was written, produced, and directed by Latter-day Saints, and that it is also about a Latter-day Saint missionary.
The article further quotes Davis, who says he doesn't regret taking out the ads, but he regrets how those people reacted. Davis says, if people reject the film because of its sympathetic portrayal toward Latter-day Saints, "that's just 100 percent bigotry, and there's no other way to describe it... If I had one wish, it would be that we focus less on who is right and more on what is right."
Then the article features a detailed description of Excel Entertainment Group, the biggest name in independent LDS music and film distribution. It describes how Jeff Simpson formed the company. The article also talks about how Simpson has managed to distribute Protestant-made CDs and videos to LDS bookstores.
The article has much more about Simpson, and Excel, and then discusses Richard Dutcher, and how he came to make "God's Army." And there's quite a bit about "God's Army" and "Brigham City." The writer of the article seems to like "Brigham City" quite a bit, but had theological difficulties with "God's Army." The article says that "God's Army" was pretty negative toward Evangelicals. I didn't think it was, but it points out that one of the most negatively portrayed characters (according to the article's writer) is Elder Kinegar, who reads anti-Mormon hate literature published by Evangelicals, and then slinks off into the night and "eventually slinks off into the night and abandons his mission."
The article talks about Dutcher's movie "Prophet," and says that one of it's major characters is apostate Latter-day Saint Robert Foster, and describes what Foster did. More quotes from interviews with Dutcher, then the article says:
"Despite [Dutcher's] clear theological differences with evangelical Christians, Dutcher believes niche filmmaking could be a means of dialogue between evangelicals and Mormons. 'There seems to be a real bridge there that people don't even try to cross. I see some of the bigger Christian films out there and find myself just wishing that they had caled me for help on their script,' he says, citing the multiply flawed 'Omega Code' as an example. 'If we could share work with one another, I think it would be mutually beneficial.'"
Which is a nice way of saying that Dutcher thinks "Omega Code" and most of the other Christian market films such as "Left Behind" stink. Which they do, and most Evangelical writers also think they stink. To be fair, Dutcher also thinks that many of the LDS Cinema films stink as well, although newspapers have quoted him saying that he likes "Out of Step" a lot and that he likes "The Other Side of Heaven" more and more now that he's seen other movies in the niche.
Really, I thought it as a well-written, interesting article. I didn't find the article offensive, although it dealt with some potentially prickly subjects.
[Many thanks to Mary Jane Jones of Excel Entertainment for letting us know about this article. The opinions and synopsis expressed here are totally those of LDSFilm.com.]