Natl Film Title Weekend Gross Rank LDS/Mormon Filmmaker/Star Total Gross Theaters Days --- ----------------------------- ----------- ----- ---- 1 2 Fast 2 Furious (NEW) 50,472,480 3,408 3 Paul Walker (top billed actor) 50,472,480 8 Wrong Turn 2,654,013 1,614 10 Eliza Dushku (top billed actor) 9,741,494 34 The Core 118,161 173 73 Aaron Eckhart (lead actor) 30,664,058 56 The Shape of Things 24,059 32 31 Neil LaBute 662,763 (writer/director/producer) 57 The Cremaster Cycle 23,191 8 45 Mathew Barney 266,074 (writer/producer/director/actor) 61 Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure 21,376 9 850 Scott Swofford (producer) 14,717,905 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) Sam Cardon (composer) Stephen L. Johnson (editor) 75 Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man 10,607 3 1130 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 15,278,192 86 China: The Panda Adventure 5,541 4 682 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 3,134,591 127 Galapagos 165 2 1319 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 14,038,678
HANDCART AND PIONEER MIRACLE AVAILABLE ON VIDEO AND DVD - The Latter-day Saint-themed feature film "Handcart," directed by Kels Goodman, went on sale on video and DVD in LDS bookstores beginning today, June 10th. The soundtrack CD is also on sale. T.C. Christensen's newest inspiring short film, "A Pioneer Miracle," went on sale the same day. In addition to local LDS bookstores and some major chains such as Media Play (in Utah), these films can also be purchased online at: http://www.ldsvideo.com
2 FAST 2 FURIOUS - As expected, "2 Fast 2 Furious" roared out of the gate to an easy #1 spot nationwide. This sequel to the surprise #1 hit "The Fast and the Furious" once again stars Latter-day Saint actor Paul Walker in the top-billed role as "Brian O'Conner." In "The Fast and the Furious" O'Conner was a Los Angeles cop who had gone undercover to thwart a string of high-speed highway robberies perpetrated by street racers. At the end of that movie, Walker's character let the bad guy (Vin Diesel) get away. "2 Fast 2 Furious" finds Walker, stripped of his badge for what he did, now making a living as an illegal street racer in Miami. He is offered a chance to clear his name and become a police officer again if he undertakes a mission to nab a nefarious crimelord who is using an import business as a front for a lucrative money laundering operation. In order to take down the bad guy and end his banking crimes, Walker and his boyhood pal (played by Tyrese, amply replacing Vin Diesel) drive at insane speeds all over hour on Florida, causing incalculable levels of auto mayhem. In the real world, a quiet team of forensic auditors and accountants would work from their offices with state and federal comptrollers and banking officials to take down the bad guy. But that story would have featured more sensible cars and sold fewer tickets.
Critics nationwide were split on "2 Fast 2 Furious." RottenTomatoes.com reports the movie has 40% positive reviews, out of 120 reviews counted. Roughly half of the critics thought the movie was an inane, pointless movie with mostly bad acting, a bland lead (Walker) and a plot that made no sense whatsoever. The other half (including the country's leading critic Roger Ebert), approved of the movie and, while agreeing that it was an inane, pointless movie with mostly bad acting and a plot that made no sense whatsoever, ALSO thought it was entertaning and fun. Everybody agreed that the movie had great-looking cars that drove very fast. It was also universally accepted that Paul Walker is incredible good looking. A few critics even offered mildly favorable words about Walker's acting. But most of the critics thought... Well, never mind that. Did we mention how handsome Walker is?
USA Today recently profiled Walker (6 June 2003), noting that Walker "grew up Mormon in the inland Los Angeles suburb of Sunland-Tujunga, entered show business while still a toddler." The article notes that Walker, who is nearly 30 years old and served a full-time 2-year mission (1991 to 1993), is "committed to his girlfriend of five years, Bliss Ellis, and [is] the father of a 4 1/2-year-old daughter, Meadow Rain Walker, from a previous relationship." (Walker, who was never married to Meadow's daughter, has noted that he was less serious about life when she was born.)
COOK JOINS DUSHKU ON TRU CALLING - In what seems like the set-up for a particularly good Jack Weyland novel, the top two Latter-day Saint actresses in the world -- one an active Church member, the other not -- are going to be working together as stars of the upcoming FOX TV series "Tru Calling." Eliza Dushku, best known for her role as the "bad girl" slayer "Faith" on the popular TV series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," is heading up the cast of the new FOX supernatural series "Tru Calling." Dushku stars as "Tru Davies," a college graduate who can relive a whole day, and uses this ability to try to prevent tragic things from happening. IMDb.com and newspapers are now reporting that the regular cast of the series includes none other than A.J. Cook, who will play "Lindsay," Tru's best friend. What makes this particularly interesting is that these two actresses literally are the top Latter-day Saint actresses working today. Dushku, who most recently had the top-billed role in "Wrong Turn," has appeared "above the line" (billed on the poster) in 9 theatrically released movies, which have grossed over $323 million in the U.S. A.J. Cook has starred in a poster-billed role in 2 theatrically released movies (both in the 2nd billed role), which grossed over $60 million in the U.S.: "Final Destination 2" and "Out Cold." Cook was also had the titular role in the critically acclaimed film "The Virgin Suicides," and she was a star of the TV series "Higher Ground" (2000). No Latter-day Saint actresses who are currently working even come close to the box office performance of Dushku and Cook. (The closest after them is Jacque Gray, the lead actress in the $2.6 million-grossing "God's Army" and Gary Rogers' upcoming movie based on 1st Nephi.) If their box office totals are adjusted by dividing box office total by billing number, they are closer together: $88 million for Dushku and $30 million for Cook.
What makes this story intereresting is that Dushku and Cook are clearly different types of Latter-day Saints. Cook, a native of Ontario, Canada, is married to her Utah-born college sweetheart and is a life-long devout Church member. She has been famously careful about only accepting film and TV roles which will not conflict with her faith. She is a veteran of horror films, but she does not do nudity or sex on screen. Dushku, on the other hand, was raised as a Latter-day Saint, but might now be compared to her rebellious character on "Buffy." While she is respectful of her mother and relatives who are active in the Church, she is not a churchgoer, describes herself as "spiritual, but not religious," and has created something of a bad-girl image by chain-smoking and peppering her interviews with four-letter words. Dushku has also been choosy about what she'll do on screen, something she attributes to the influence of her feminist Latter-day Saint mom. But Dushku has acted in very sensual roles, particularly on the "Buffy" series and also in some films, somewhat shocking her conservative, ethically-oriented grandparents and cousins with her heterosexual and lesbian love scenes. Dushku has never publicly expressed animosity toward the Church, and will probably get along fine with Cook. But the whole behind-the-scenes situation on this show does sound like a premise ripe with dramatic possibilities.
DANSIE SEEKING LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL TEAMS - Director Tucker T. Dansie, a Latter-day Saint filmmaker based in Salt Lake City, and 9 by 9 Entertainment, are looking for 2 Little League Baseball Teams that would be interested in participating in Dansie's new short mockumentary "The Umpire Strikes Back: The Rise and Fall of a Little League Umpire." Filming is scheduled for July of 2003. If you or anyone you know are affiliated with a Little League team (ages 8-12) that can provide a complete team, along with uniforms, please contact Dansie at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.tuckertdansie.com/umpire.htm for more information. Participates will be required for a 1 day / 3-4 hour shoot, full of plenty of baseball, cheering, making fun of umpires and even some members of the team and their familes will get feature roles. This will be a no-pay non-union shoot, but refreshments and copies of the film will be provided! We encourage all young participants their families to get involved. Auditions for many lead roles will be announced as soon as we secure the teams.
Further description of "The Umpire Strikes Back": A mockumentary, 3 years in the making, about the lose of innocence in Little League baseball. It's actually quite a sad story in Little League baseball today, when volunteers are now subject to criminal background checks and kids are being banned from baseball for life for lying about their age so their team could have the "advantage". This film hope to make light of a bad situation by showing the sad state of Little League through the eyes of the most ridiculed person on the field, the Umpire. He'll be taunted, heckled, chewed up and spit out, all before the opening ball is thrown out. But what happens when they all go too far and this delicate man just...snaps?
Tucker Dansie, in conjunction with his newly formed production company 9 by 9 Entertainment, is also working on a DVD/CD project for the Logan-based musical group COLORS (www.colorsmusic.com), whom Dansie produced a documentary about in 2000. Dansie directed 6 cameras to capture COLORS farewell performance in Orem, Utah in February of 2003 and will now use his 9 years of Non-Linear Editing experience to bring together 10 years worth of COLORS memories onto 1 DVD collection.
Another 9 by 9 project's will include "One of Life's Little Lessons" the series, which Dansie hopes to draw to a conclusion by years end. Dansie also plans to continue work on his yet-to-be-filmed feature film "Love Logs On."
TROY THROUGH A WINDOW NOW AVAILABLE - Latter-day Saint filmmaker Brad Barber's documentary "Troy Through a Window" is now available on video. Barber's BYU faculty advisor for the film was Thomas Lefler. The 57-minute documentary features music by Paul Jacobsen. This fascinating film is described thus on the video cover: "For his last film at Brigham Young University, Brad Barber decided to go home to Tennessee for Christmas break to try to answer some questions. He wanted to come to terms with the event that forever changed his life and his devout Mormon family seven years earlier--when his idolized oldest brother announced he was gay. Since Troy came out, it seems as if a window now stands between him and the rest of the family--making two distinct places which each side may see but can't always share. For Brad, interviewing his own family raised new issues to be addressed--How far can each side go to reach through the window and show acceptance to each other? The result is a challenging, emotional, and redeeming look at the effects of this complex, seldom talked about issue in his family." Detailed comments about the film can be found on the order page for the film at: http://www.ldsvideo.com/TroyThruWindow.htm
"MISSY" AVAILABLE SOON - "Missy," feature-length science fiction thriller from the makers of "Handcart," will be available on DVD next month. "Missy" stars Junior Case, who appears in the upcoming movie "Legally Blonde 2", and Jaelan Petrie, the top-billed star of "Handcart." The DVD includes a full-length audio commentary track by directors Bryan Young and Elias Pate, producer Kels Goodman, stars Jaelan Petrie and Junior Case, and cinematographer Paul Green. There is also a "behind the scenes" featurette and an outtake reel.
ROGERS MOVIE CAST/CREW AVAILABLE FOR APPEARANCES: The official website for Gary Rogers' feature film based on the book of 1st Nephi from the Book of Mormon has posted information about booking cast and crew members from the movie for appearances. The director, producer and selected cast members are available (for free) to speak in the Salt Lake, Ogden and Provo areas at programs tailored to fit "any type of audience," including firesides, sacrament meetings, business meetings, conventions, and youth conferences. See: http://www.bookofmormonmovie.com/meetings.html
EXTRAS NEEDED FOR PROVO FEATURE FILM W/CARMEN RASMUSEN - Forwarded from: Michelle K. Wright, And Action! Actor's Studio, http://www.actionacting.com: [QUOTE] The production is underway and we are one week into principal photography... This is a modern makeover of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" and is being shot on location in Provo, Utah this June. We will be needing extras for a party scene in which Carmen Rasmussen from "American Idol" will be performing on Monday the 9th, Tuesday the 10th, and Wednesday the 11th. All those interested should meet in the parking lot across from Lavell Edwards Stadium in Provo at 8:30 pm Monday night and we will shuttle to the location. We will be filming until around 2:00am. This is an easy way to get a film credit. We will also be meeting for similar shoots on Tuesday and Wednesday night at 8:30pm. Thanks again. Thanks, Logan Deans - Associate Producer, 2nd AD [END QUOTE]
TULSE LUPER - LDS CHARACTERS STAR IN PALME D'OR-NOMINATED FILM AT CANNES - Latter-day Saint characters, including "bad guys" and a love interest for the film's hero are featured in a new film that was screened at this year's Cannes Film Festival last week. Peter Greenaway is a British filmmaker who now lives and works in The Netherlands, where he has been able to obtain funding for his films. The new film that he screened at Cannes is "The Tulse Luper Suitcases, Part 1: The Moab Story." It is the first part of an 8-hour trilogy. The trilogy is part of a larger project which includes an extensive website, a video game, books and 92 DVDs. According to IMDb.com, the budget for this film was $10 million. That may be the budget for the entire 8-hour trilogy, which I think was filmed all at once, and simply split into 3 films because 8 hours is too long for a single film. The Tulse Luper film is Greenaway's fourth nomination for Cannes' top prize, the Palme d'Or. Earlier successes include critically-acclaimed "The Draughtsman's Contract," "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover" and "Prospero's Books."
Yahoo.com's Cannes' report describes the plot of the film: "Covering sixty years in the world's recent history from the discovery of Uranium in 1928 to the collapse of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the end of the cold war, the film follows Tulse Luper's adventures from his childhood in South Wales to his excursions in Moab, Utah, where he runs into a family of German-American Mormons who become his jailers for the next ten years in Europe." The newspaper Agence France-Presse reported: "Tulse Luper... is a writer and project-maker who is jailed 16 times in the trilogy, which begins in Wales, shifts to Utah's Moab desert and the Mormons, then goes on to Antwerp where Luper is arrested by Belgian fascists." Salon.com quotes the writer/director, who says that the movie "starts by discussing American fascism in 1933 in Utah, and finishes at the end of the Cultural Revolution in Manchuria, in China -- from one desert to another... it's the history of uranium, which is the ultimate American treasure... Now with the end of the Cold War, your treasure is being buried again, which relates to the origins of the Mormons, who are always looking for treasure." NOW Magazine (Toronto) reports that in the film Tulse "goes to Utah to find lost cities, wanders into an extremely dysfunctional Mormon family... and winds up in Belgium writing on natural history for The Times on the eve of WWII."
Red Magazine (a Utah-based weekly arts and entertainment magazine) describes the movie and its Latter-day Saint content in some depth in Jeremy Mathews' article headlined "Moab Desert and LDS Church Receive New Interpretation in New Cinematic Art Project": The article notes that "The typical Utahn won't likely be proud of the association since the state isn't exactly shown in a loving light -- unless Mormons stripping a man, painting honey on his... and tying him to a pole in the desert is a nice light... After he's caught looking at a Mormon woman bathing naked in the middle of the desert, Tulse is arrested, charged with trespassing, tortured... and beat up." Tulse meets other Latter-day Saints in Belgium, where they are helping the fascist party.
Red Magazine attended a press conference where the director answered questions. The director said: "The whole phenomenon of new religions related to landscape and the persona of people like Brigham Young and the way that the Mormon communities have organized the deserts and their use of metaphors from the desert... fascinated me deeply. I'm interested in the way religions are constructed. How you take what you need, how you organize your beliefs according to how you want to structure your life. And I think that Mormonism, for me -- and I speak as an absolute atheist -- is an extraordinary, very almost contemporary example of how to construct a religion. And that to me was a fascinating investigation."
AFI'S 100 HEROES AND VILLAINS - Beginning in 1998 the American Film Institute (AFI) has created yearly lists celebrating American cinematic achievement. Their first list, presented during a 2 hour broadcast, was simply titled "AFI's 100 = Years... 100 Movies." This list offered their selection of the 100 greatest American movies of the last 100 years, as voted on by a large number of leaders in the film community: screenwriters, directors, actors, producers, cinematographers, editors, executives, film historians and critics. Since then, the AFI has presented lists of the 100 greatest stars, 100 greatest comedies, 100 most thrilling films and 100 best romantic films.
This year's AFI list was "100 Heroes and Villains," featuring the AFI's picks for the top 50 heroes and top 50 villains of American cinema. This year's list was different in that it looked not just at movies as a whole, but at specific characters from movies - focusing on heroes and villains. In fact, some movies appear on this list more than once, associated with more than one great character. Also, a number of characters are listed here, and ranked high, not for their appearance in a single movie, but for their legacy from many films. Such characters include James Bond, Indiana Jones, Robin Hood and Dracula. Of course, all of these lists are ultimately subjective, and they are clearly designed to draw attention to American movies past and present. But even if one disagrees with the lists, they are interesting to think about, and they remind people of movies which have had lasting impact.
There is only one Latter-day Saint on this list of 100 heroes and villains: Butch Cassidy. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid share the #20 spot on the Heroes list for the 1969 movie named after them. As an adult Butch Cassidy was not a devout Latter-day Saint, but he was raised in the Church. Presumably his highly ethical upbringing led to his famously non-lethal style of being an outlaw.
Although only one of the characters on this AFI list is a Mormon, many of the movies highlighted on the list were made by Latter-day Saint (and/or Utah) filmmakers. Latter-day Saints and/or Utahns filled many above-the-line roles such as producer, writer, director, editor or star in the movies on this AFI list. Also, some of the non-LDS actors highlighted on this list for the hero or villain they played in one movie have played a Latter-day Saint character, or played opposite a Latter-day Saint character, in a different movie. A detailed listing of the films and the Utahns and/or Latter-day Saints who worked on them in major positions can be found at: http://www.ldsfilm.com/misc/lds_AFI100Heroes.html
The 100 heroes and villains were chosen by film industry professionals from a list of 400 nominees. Notable on AFI's list of 400 nominees are two villains portrayed by Latter-day Saint actors:
Bruno Antony: The villain of the 1951 Alfred Hitchcock classic "Strangers on a Train." Bruno was played by Latter-day Saint actor Robert Walker, in what is largely regarded as Walker's finest role.
Chad: Latter-day Saint actor Aaron Eckhart played "Chad" in Latter-day Saint writer/director Neil LaBute's directorial debut "In the Company of Men" (1997). This was the feature film adaptation of LaBute's play, which he wrote and first staged at Brigham Young University. While on a business trip, Chad cruelly executes a plan to humiliate and emotionally destroy a young deaf woman. The film was critically acclaimed and launched Eckhart's career as a Hollywood actor and LaBute's career as one of America's most hottest directors.