Feature Films by LDS/Mormon Filmmakers and Actors
Weekend Box Office Report (U.S. Domestic Box Office Gross)

Weekend of August 8, 2003

[If table lines up improperly, use mono-spaced font, i.e. Courier]

Natl  Film Title                Weekend Gross
Rank  LDS/Mormon Filmmaker/Star   Total Gross Theaters Days
---  ----------------------------- -----------  -----  ----
 1   S.W.A.T. (NEW)                 37,062,535  3,202     3
     Latter-day Saint character     37,062,535

20   Le Divorce (NEW)                  516,834     34     3
     Matthew Modine (actor)            516,834

27   2 Fast 2 Furious                  289,910    302    66
     Paul Walker (lead actor)      125,882,195

53   Wrong Turn                         37,914     66    73
     Eliza Dushku (lead actor)      15,265,241

58   Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure   22,780      8   913
     Scott Swofford (producer)      15,093,348
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)
     Sam Cardon (composer)
     Stephen L. Johnson (editor)

66   Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man   11,663      4  1186
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)   15,465,323

77   Cremaster 3                         5,658      2   108
     Mathew Barney                     415,988

79   China: The Panda Adventure          5,152      4   745
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)    3,316,951

84   The R.M.                            2,315      4   192
     Kurt Hale (writer/director)     1,049,650
     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.

SUDDENLY UNEXPECTED PREMIERE - Suddenly Unexpected, the 9th LDS Cinema film to hit theaters, premiered this past weekend in Houston, Texas. Other scheduled premieres of LDS-themed theatrical releases (plus Johnny Lingo):

8/29 - The Work and the Story (Utah - Salt Lake City, Provo, possibly Logan)
       The Legend of Johnny Lingo (Utah, Atlanta, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Phoenix/Mesa, and Las Vegas)
9/12 - The Book of Mormon Movie, Vol. 1: The Journey (Utah)

10/10 - Day of Defense (Utah)
        Best Two Years (Utah)
Note that August 29th and October 10th EACH have TWO films scheduled to be released on those dates. There should be plenty to choose from this fall for fans of LDS Cinema. co-webmaster (and Meridian Magazine film reviewer - not to mention his REAL career as a film composer) Thomas C. Baggaley will be attending screenings of both "The Work and the Story" and "The Legend of Johnny Lingo" in the next couple of weeks. We'll keep you posted on what he thought.

MARK POTTER ON THE SUDDENLY UNEXPECTED PREMIERE - "Suddenly Unexpected" director Mark Potter writes the following about the Aug. 7 premiere of his Latter-day Saint-themed film:

The movie opened last night. Before the showing, both Marge and I were feeling very nervous. We had not seen the final 35mm print. It did not come in until Tuesday afternoon. We got to the theater at 5:30. I could not relax as people began arriving. Actually I would have preferred to be some place else. At 7:10 Marjorie and I introduced the film. It began to roll but the sound was not up. Marjorie and I were out of the theater in a bolt. The projectionist had pushed a wrong button. This does not help very nervous people. Once the sound was back on, we went back to the theater. Marge forced herself to go back in and sit down. I stood in the back. I was dying until the audience started laughing. If only a few people laugh, you can not hear a thing in the back. It is not until the whole house laughs that you can tell that they found something funny. Once they started laughing regularly, I could sit down in the theater for the rest of the film. They kept laughing-people don't fake laughing or laugh to be polite to make the director and producer feel better. The whole audience laughing is a good judge that you can tell if the movie is working or not. Once the whole house started laughing they kept going through the rest of the movie. Then the movie ended with a big laugh.

When people see you after the movie, you expect that they will do what most people do and be polite and say something nice no matter what they thought. So we take what people say with a grain of salt. But I did have two different eight year olds come up to me and say that they thought it was very funny and wanted to know when they could get it on video. Kids don't lie about such things so I knew that they really did like it. Of course we never thought about making a movie 8 years old would like. It just happened. Several people asked when the video would be out which we took as a good sign.

Some of the emails sent to us from non-members said "I was at the premiere. It was great! Congratulations. Some very creative humor.." Another said, "I responded to the film's gentle, unforced humor. The relationship between the elders came across as warm and very human. I liked both of them, and you made it clear how the strange little odyssey with the package enriched their relationship from externally-ordered companions into guys who would like each other even if they weren't on a mission together." Another non-member said to us, "I loved the pacing of the movie. It relaxed me and made me laugh too". The audience was about 60% members and 40% non members.

Members enjoyed it too. They had many positive reaction. It worked in all age groups of 6 up to 86.

I would say that around 80% of the audience really enjoyed the movie. We left the theater feeling very good.

Exactly what we are going to do from here, we are not sure at this moment. We are pondering on it.


[ As far as we have been able to ascertain, neither the Houston Chronicle nor any other news organization has reviewed this movie. Box office numbers were not available for the film. If they become available, we will pass that information along.]

HOUSTON TV NEWS: "SUDDENLY UNEXPECTED" AND ITS DIRECTOR PROFILED; BUDGET GIVEN - Here is a writeup of a profile done by the local Houston news network affiliate. A video clip of interview with director Mark Potter is included. There is a photo of Mark Potter and his wife, Marjorie, who produced. The budget is cited as being just over $100,000. See

SUDDENLY UNEXPECTED IN HOUSTON CHRONICLE - The Houston Chronicle noted the premiere of the Latter-day Saint-themed feature-length film "Suddenly Unexpected." The paragraph below is from the Houston Chronicle (

Aug. 6, 2003
MORMON COMEDY: Suddenly Unexpected, a comedy about a day in the lives of two Mormon missionaries, premieres at 7 tonight at Meyerland Nova Theatre. The movie by MPotter Productions, a Houston company, was shot in and around Houston in October and concerns two young men who wake up to find themselves evicted from their rented rooms. The movie will also show at 11 a.m. Friday through Aug. 14 and at 7 p.m. Monday. For more information, see

THE LEGEND OF JOHNNY LINGO WEB SITE - The official website for the upcoming movie "The Legend of Johnny Lingo" is now online It features a trailer and everything. Very cool. The website is much less serious in tone than the impression I had of previous publicity materials and press releases.

The new "Johnny Lingo" movie was produced by Latter-day Saint producers Jerry Molen ("Schindler's List", "Jurassic Park", "The Other Side of Heaven") and John Garbett ("Shrek", "The Other Side of Heaven"), and directed by Latter-day Saint film editor Steven Ramirez ("The Other Side of Heaven"), making his directorial debut. The screenwriter is the most critically acclaimed Polynesian screenwriter working today, and the cast consists entirely of Polynesian actors.

* * *

The Work and The Story - "The funniest movie ever made about Mormon Cinema" -- Coming to theaters August 29

SALT LAKE CITY, UT -- Richard Dutcher returns to the silver screen, acting in his first film since Brigham City (2001). In March, 2000 Richard Dutcher's film God's Army (a story about a Mormon missionary) was released and eventually grossed over $2.3 million in theaters. God's Army was the first commercially successful film by a Mormon, for Mormon audiences, which was followed by a flood of new theatrical releases all targeting Mormon audiences including Singles Ward, The Other Side of Heaven, Out of Step, Charly, Handcart and The R.M.

More "Mormon" films are in production and several are scheduled for release. There are romances, comedies, pioneer and missionary stories, war stories, and even films about The Book of Mormon.

The Work and The Story parodies the hilarious gold-rush that took place as Mormon filmmakers rushed to cash in on the success of God's Army.

Richard Dutcher plays himself, the man who founded "Mormon Cinema", who in July 2000, is missing and presumed dead. Will Richard be found? Who will save Mormon Cinema? The film follows three novice filmmakers as they attempt to take their place as the next "Mormon Spielberg". But one of these novice filmmakers doesn't want Richard found.

A timely comedy opening in theaters August 29, The Work and The Story stars Richard Dutcher, Kirby Heyborne (Singles Ward, The R.M.) Nathan Smith Jones, (Movie Show Host, KJZZ) Richard Moll ("Bull" on the 80s sitcom Night Court) and Jen Hoskins.

Visit for more information

ECLIPSE FILM FESTIVAL - Be sure to submit your films to the Utah-based, family-friendly, internationally prestigious Eclipse Film Festival.

The deadline for the next festival is Sept. 15th. I think this will be the 4th year for the event, which is one of the biggest film festivals in the state that you have a chance of getting your film accepted into.


PROD·I·GAL, NEW DANSIE FLICK - From a press release. Filmmaker attempts to do justice to Christ's Famous Parable in "prod·i·gal"

"There was a man who had two sons;" that's how the classic parable begins. And within only a few verses we are taught, among other things, about forgiveness, jealousy, temptation and rebellion. It's a story that has fascinated us for generations, by one of the greatest storytellers ever. Centuries later, acclaimed filmmaker Tucker T Dansie ("COLORS: up close & personal"-Director / "Suddenly Unexpected" -Director Of Photography) will attempt to do justice to this tale by modernizing it's elements in his newest short film. This will include some modernizing of rebellious acts, a job that could prove to be "tricky". Dansie and his crew will be putting the twenty-something son through alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex and violence, all things that are unfortunately gaining popularity in society these days. "The challenge will be to show these temptations and make them look as despicable as they are, while keeping the film watch-able." says Dansie, the films writer/director/producer.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did their version of the parable, titled "The Prodigal Son", which delivered a powerful message about jealousy. But unlike that production, which was primarily about events that occurred after the son's return, Dansie's "prod·i·gal" will focus on the son leaving home, his lose of innocence, and the state of torment that he leaves his family in. It will also reflect Dansie's signature style, which can be seen in his other short films and documentaries.

"It's a beautiful story that everyone knows by heart" says Dansie, commenting on the challenge of making a story that everyone already knows the ending to. "It's not really about the conclusion; it's the ride that we are all hanging on for that matters. And I'm hoping to touch some emotions I've never touched on before."

Although he was the Director of Photography on the LDS comedy feature film "Suddenly Unexpected" which opened in Houston, Texas in August of 2003, "prod·i·gal" is the first film he has written and directed that contains religion as a central theme. Dansie is also completing work on his "One of Life's Little Lessons" series, which are a series of heartwarming, funny and dramatic "Little Lessons" for all ages to enjoy.

For those curious thespians out there, the lead role in "prod·i·gal" was written for an actor friend of Dansie's, who has appeared recently in a LDS direct-to-video release by another award winning director, Christian Viussa called "Unfolding". Other roles for the film will be up for Audition at the end of August, with the cameras rolling soon thereafter.

More information on "prod·i·gal", or any of Dansie's other films can be found at

NEW MERIDIAN ARTICLE: RECOMMENDED LDS VIDEOS AND DOCUMENTARIES - Meridian Magazine's newest film article, written by Thomas C. Baggaley, can be found here:

The article recommends the following LDS Documentaries and Videos:

** Documentaries **
- American Prophet (1999) - Lee Groberg and Heidi S. Swinton
- Forgotten Voyage (2002) - Scott Tiffany
- Lehi's Land of First Inheritance (2002) - Chris Heimerdinger
- One Hundred Years of Mormonism (1913)
- Anything by Carole Mikita

** Direct-to-Video Narrative Films **
- Roots & Wings (2002) - Christian Vuissa
- Pioneer Miracle (2003) - T.C. Christensen
- Only Once (1998) - Rocco DeVilliers
- Eliza and I (1997) - Richard Dutcher
- Johnny Lingo (1969) - Wetzel O. Whitaker
- The Phone Call (1977) - Douglas G. Johnson
- Newly Released to DVD - Brigham Young

Be sure to read the full article.

DONNY STARS IN NEW TV SPECIAL - See,1249,510045156,00.html

NEW BOOK ABOUT MO-TAB TV PROGRAM - See,1249,510045631,00.html

MITCHELL'S NEW LAVELL EDWARDS DOCUMENTARY - Kevin Mitchell has produced a new documentary about LaVell Edwards' final season as head coach of the Brigham Young University football team. For more info, see:

SLC PUNK - Deseret News feature editor and former film reviewer Chris Hicks writes about "SLC Punk," which was made by non-LDS Salt Lake City resident James Merendino. See:,1249,510045359,00.html

An aside, which has nothing to do with Hicks' article: This movie exhibits some anti-Mormon sentiment, but is not at all an anti-Mormon diatribe, and Merendino doesn't seem overtly or egregiously anti-Mormon or anti-Semitic... just young and ignorant. "SLC Punk!" stars Matthew Lillard, best known as "Shaggy" in the recent "Scooby Doo" feature film.

MORE DESERET NEWS - Deseret News movie writer Jeff Vice lists numerous LDS-made and LDS-themed movies in his roundup of currently released and upcoming movies made in Utah. One thing I thought was interesting was that "Unexpected Race" is listed as an upcoming theatrical release. Formerly titled "War in Heaven," many people have thought that this was a badly made short student film. Maybe it is significantly more than this. The lists below are taken directly from the August 8, 2003 Deseret News article titled "Filmmakers flocking to Utah" which can be found at:,1249,510045360,00.html Films and television programs shot entirely or partially in Utah during the past year and their current video status:

- "Charly": Heather Beers, Jeremy Elliot; theatrical film (VHS/DVD).
- "The Core": Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, DJ Qualls, Stanley Tucci; theatrical film (VHS/DVD, Sept. 9).
- "Gerry": Casey Affleck, Matt Damon; theatrical film.
- "Handcart: The Movie": Jaelan Petrie, Stephanie Albach, Christopher Kendrick, Shannon Skinner; theatrical film (VHS/DVD).
- "Hulk": Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliott; theatrical film (VHS/DVD, Oct. 28).
- "Legally Blonde: Red, White & Blonde": Reese Witherspoon, Sally Field, Luke Wilson, Bob Newhart; theatrical film.
- "Little Secrets": Evan Rachel Wood, Michael Angarano, David Gallagher, Vivica A. Fox; theatrical film (VHS/DVD).
- "Right on Track": Beverly Mitchell, Brie Larson, Jon Lindstrom, Jodi Russell; Disney Channel TV movie.
- "The RM": Kirby Heyborne, Britani Bateman, Merrill Dodge, Tracy Ann Evans; theatrical film (VHS/DVD, September).
- "Top Speed": Tim Allen (narrator); large-format theatrical film.

- "The Book of Mormon Movie, Vol. 1: The Journey": Noah Danby, Jacque Gray, Bryce Chamberlain, Jan Felt; theatrical film (Sept. 12).
- "Day of Defense": theatrical film (Oct. 10).
- "For Time and All Eternity": Direct-to-video (December).
- "The Maldonado Miracle": Eddy Martin, Peter Fonda, Mare Winningham, Ruben Blades; Showtime TV movie (Oct. 12).
- "The Work and the Story": Richard Dutcher, Nathan Smith-Jones, Kirby Heyborne; theatrical film (Aug. 29).

- "Benji Returns: Rags to Riches": Lincoln Hoppe; theatrical film (2004).
- "Best Two Years": Kirby Heyborne, K.C. Clyde, Cameron Hopkins; theatrical film (fall or winter).
- "Fly Boys": Tom Sizemore, Stephen Baldwin, Jesse James, Reiley McClendon; theatrical film.
- "The Home Teachers": Jeff Birk, Michael Birkeland; theatrical film (Jan. 9, 2004).
- "Saints and Soldiers": Corbin Allred, Larry Bagby III, Kirby Heyborne; theatrical film (early 2004).
- "Pride and Prejudice: A Utah Comedy": Ben Gourley, Hubbel Palmer; theatrical film (fall).

- "The Crow: Wicked Prayer": Edward Furlong, David Boreanaz, Tara Reid, Dennis Hopper; theatrical film.
- "Eat, Drink & Get Married": Theatrical.
- "Everwood": Treat Williams, Gregory Smith, Emily VanCamp, Debra Mooney; WB TV series (new episodes air in September).
- "Plainsong": Rachel Griffiths, Megan Follows, Cody Arens, Marian Seldes; CBS TV movie (fall).
- "A Thief of Time": William Martin Brennan; PBS TV movie.
- "Unexpected Race": Theatrical film.

EVEN MORE DESERET NEWS - Extended article about filming in Utah: See:,1249,510045354,00.html

Utah is one of the top 5 states in the country in volume of film and television production.

BENJI ARTICLES - Multiple articles about the upcoming "Benji" feature film, which stars Latter-day Saint actors Nick Whitaker ("Brigham City," "Bug Off!", "Message in a Cell Phone"), Lincoln Hoppe ("The Singles Ward", "Handcart", "Out of Step", "The R.M.", "The Last Good War", "Freedom on the Water"), and Christopher E. Kendrick ("Handcart", "The Promethean"). The Deseret News articles:,1249,510045352,00.html,1249,510045396,00.html

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COSMIC AGENTS LOOK HERE - Martial Artists Talent Search Tournament

Wanted: Martial Artists, especially those crossed trained in numerous styles, wanted to take part in Martial Artists talent search tournaments, the best ones to win parts in the movie series, now in the works, Cosmic Agents.

Looking for a series of combinations for self defense scenes, and situations:
- One on one.
- One against two.
- One against three or more.
- Team fighting situations.
- Against different types of weapons.

- We will also be testing your abilities to be able to work out fighting scenes with main characters.

Not interested in seeing katas or forms.

Contestants will be judged based on their abilities to make their fighting scenes look real, but more importantly safe for those taking part in them.

This is also a Fund raiser for movie series: Entrance fees for tournament: $15 per person taking part in self defense situations created.

What to bring to tournament:

Costumes: Futuristic gang type dress, use your imagination on what might be worn by roaming gangs seeking food, fuel, weapons, and other needs, in a futuristic world, where transportation, the trucking system, and trade, as we now know it, has changed, or broken down. Bring Certifications of ranks, with a resume of any other abilities and talents that relate to martial arts and making movies. Plus head shot(s). (For example, if you have college training in lighting, cameras, sound, editing or acting experience, etc., we would like to know about it). (Optional), bring any Video footage, or CD-RW disks of tournaments, or fighting scenes you have done in the past. Especially high quality footage that could be chosen and used in the movie, with your permission.

This is a martial arts tournament that we hope will bring out the best talented martial artists from around the Salt Lake valley area, or other places in Utah. If you don't "win" the opportunities of being in major fighting scenes in this movie series, but can demonstrate that you are a very good martial artist, you might be asked to take part as a paid extra in some of the different fighting scenes that the main characters will do.

Credits and ads: The different martial artists, and martial arts schools that take part in this tournament and the movie, will also be listed in the movie's credits along with their schools' logos, phone numbers, or web site address. A large web page address will also be included in the credits too. On this web page will be links to those martial artists who have web sites, and who wish to place an ad for their school in the movie's credits and the movie's up coming web site.

Dates: Starting in Aug. 5, 2003, every Tues. evening on through the month of Sept. 2003, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the following location.

Location: Big Cottonwood Park - 4300 S. 1300 E. in Salt Lake City. (North-east side of park, north of baseball field; east of the small play ground area, up on the hill, near the covered tables). Parking is on both the west side (off of 11th east); and on the east side (off of 13th E.)

What to bring: Your own lunch (optional), and water. (We will have food and drinks to sale as part of the fund raiser for the movie, plus Cosmic Agents, clothing for sale too). Head shot (if you have one), plus, a resume (in printed form or burned to a CD), of your movie making experiences, training and equipment that you might have, (computers, lighting, cameras, mikes, musical instruments, etc.); plus, skills, educational background and movie credits.

Martial Artists should bring:
1. Certification of rank (if possible).
2. Costume to warm up and work out in, or dress accordingly.
3. Water (freeze water in a plastic container, so you can have ice water to drink, and cool yourself off with).
4. Martial art weapons, (if you would like to show us your skills in them).
5. A Martial Art skit ready, that shows us your skills. (Not interested in seeing forms or katas, but how you react to different self defense situations, such as one on one, one against two, three, or more, etc., team fighting).
6. (Optional): Video or CD of Martial Art events, skits, or tournaments that shows your skills.
7. (Optional): Safety equipment, pads, bags, first aide kit. (We want to keep these Martial Art tournament sessions as safe as possible).

Sparring, (not full contact, but with control). Can you make it look real, without hurting your fellow Martial Artists? Come ready to show Skits done with weapons. Situational skits (Some one grabs you, what can you do, etc).

This will be the first of many on going Martial Art Talent Search Tournaments, so if you cant make it to the first one, don't worry, they will be on going, Aug. through Sept., 2003, every Tues. evenings, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

If you are interested, please contact: Darell Thorpe, III Millennium Movie Makers, IIIMMM; e-mail: