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

Weekend of September 12, 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
---  ----------------------------- -----------  -----  ----
 9   S.W.A.T.                        2,708,563  2,062    38
     LDS character                 108,784,017

26   Le Divorce                        439,403    432    38
     Matthew Modine (actor)          8,409,849

39   The Book of Mormon Movie Vol. 1   114,573     29     3
     Gary Rogers (prod./dir./writer)   114,573
     Craig Clyde (screenplay)
     David Hales (co-producer, editor)
     Ira Baker (editor)
     Robert C. Bowden (composer)
     Actors: Bryce Chamberlain, Mark Gollaher
        Jan Broberg Felt, Cragun Foulger
        Jacque Gray, Kirby Heyborne, Michael Flynn

43   2 Fast 2 Furious                   79,065    118   101
     Paul Walker (lead actor)      127,014,815

49   The Legend of Johnny Lingo         44,921     43    17
     Gerald Molen (producer)           340,693
     John Garbett (producer)

65   Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure   13,735      7   948
     Scott Swofford (producer)      15,239,711
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)
     Sam Cardon (composer)
     Stephen L. Johnson (editor)

71   The R.M.                            8,092      7   227
     Kurt Hale (writer/director)     1,105,532
     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.

73   Wrong Turn                          7,439     22   108
     Eliza Dushku (lead actor)      15,411,121

79   Galapagos                           5,754      2  1417
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)   14,077,589

89   Cremaster 3                         4,045      4   143
     Mathew Barney                     448,690

92   China: The Panda Adventure          3,301      2   780
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)    3,505,357

93   Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man    3,220      4  1221
     Reed Smoot (cinematographer)   15,536,018

BOOK OF MORMON MOVIE OPENING WEEKEND NUMBERS - The highly anticipated, much discussed "The Book of Mormon Movie, Vol. 1: The Journey" opened in 29 theaters this past weekend. Grossing $114,573, the film brought in the 2nd highest opening weekend numbers for an LDS Cinema film, behind only "The R.M.", which brought in $130,352 in its first weekend, and outperforming the opening weekends of such high-grossing films as "God's Army", "The Other Side of Heaven" and even "The Legend of Johnny Lingo" which opened in more than twice as many theaters in several major metropolitans nationwide and caters to a much more general audience than do the other films. This three-day total is also more than both "Handcart" and "Out of Step" grossed in their entire theatrical runs. In the process, "The Book of Mormon Movie" set a couple of new records, grossing more in three days than any other LDS Cinema flick had done in an entire week during the months between May and November inclusive.

THE REVIEWS HAVE STARTED COMING IN - Here are reviews of "The Book of Mormon Movie" that are out so far:
- Jeff Vice (Deseret Morning News) 2 stars out of 4 -,1249,510053540,00.html
- Sean P. Means (Salt Lake Tribune) 1.5 out of 4 stars -
- Steve Salles (Ogden Standard Examiner) 2 out of 4 stars
- Doug Wright (KSL Radio) gave the film 2 out of 4 stars -
- Eric Snider (formerly of the Utah Daily Herald) "C-" -

* * *

HEATHER BEERS TO STAR IN "EAT, DRINK AND GET MARRIED" - Press Release from the Production Company: "Faith, Hope and Charity are great, but what this town needs is a miracle."

- Starring Heather Beers, in her first feature film since "Charly"
- Based on the best-selling book by Robert Farrell Smith: "Baptists At Our Barbecue"
- Directed by Christian Vuissa, award-winning and critically acclaimed director of "Roots & Wings", "Unfolding" and "A Given."
- Media Day On the Set in Lehi, Monday, September 15, 3 to 4 p.m.

As "The Book of Mormon Movie" debuts for strictly LDS audiences in Utah, a warm yet gut-busting novel by one of the region's hottest authors begins its transformation to film intending to climb right over the intra-faith fence. "Eat, Drink and Get Married," based on Robert Farrell Smith's best-seller "Baptists At Our Barbecue," is now being shot in Utah as a feature film.

"Baptists at our Barbecue" was Robert's debut title in 1996," says Deseret Book publicist Kathie Terry. "Deseret Book republished it in 2002 due to its popularity and charm. Robert is considered by many to be the Mormon Mark Twain. He has had many best sellers for us, including 'All is Swell,' 'Falling for Grace,' 'Captain Matrimony,' and the recent 'Never Can Say Goodbye.' The film should have a huge built-in audience," she adds, "but it will surely attract a whole new crowd of believers, so to speak."

"This is new ground in Utah filmmaking," says Matt Smith, one of the film's producers. "This is a story that has already proven itself a hot commodity. Robert is one of the best-known names in regional fiction. He practically owns the Mormon humorous-fiction genre."

But "Eat, Drink and Get Married" is not strictly Mormon fare, says Matt Smith. "This is just a good, warm-hearted story about life in a small town. Okay, a slightly eccentric small town. The process of putting the book to film, actually seeing it acted out," he says, "has everyone on the cast and crew frequently laughing."

Says author turned-screenwriter Robert Smith, "This is the story of a single guy nearing thirty who escapes the social pressures of Mormon Utah only to end up in Longwinded, an isolated place populated equally by feuding Mormons and Baptists. Of course, he ends up saving the town and finding the girl. Sort of the quintessential quest for love, peace and a better burrito." The film will be released next spring.

The crew began filming last week in Layton with Christian Vuissa directing. "Christian, who is Austrian-born, is one of the prize names in Mormon cinema," says Farrell Smith, executive producer of Blue Crow Productions. An honors graduate of BYU's film school and founder of the LDS Film Festival, Vuissa has earned honors with his short films and documentaries nationwide. His film "Roots & Wings" won several prestigious awards, including the highest LDS award for filmmaking, the Association for Mormon Letters (AML) Award for Best Film 2002. This award has only been given once before, to "God's Army" in 2000. "Roots & Wings" also won the Gold Aurora Award for Best Foreign Language Film 2002 and Best Director/Best Screenplay at the Eclipse Film Festival 2002. His short film "A Given" won at the Christophers' Festival 2001 in New York and was aired nationwide on PBS in 2002. "This will be Christian's feature film debut," says Farrell Smith, "and Christian doesn't do anything second-rate."

Co-leads are Heather Beers and Dan Merkley, "an impeccable, electric pairing," says Vuissa, "This will be Beers' first film since her dazzling debut in 'Charly' and she looks good. It will be fun to see here back on screen in such a lighthearted role."

Dan Merkley, as Tartan Jones, was "just" a popular regional comedian until he assumed a starring role in the much talked about upcoming "mockumentary" "The Work and the Story."

Like the book, the movie will be family-friendly, yet anything but saccharine. "Spark and flame are built in," says Robert Smith. "There are some fights, some profound messages and some really good kissing." But with this, its first film project, Saipan-based Blue Crow Productions adds a unique dimension to the family film genre: Rob Smith and Matt Smith are brothers; Farrell is their dad; and younger brother Mike is a production coordinator.

As a unit, the Smiths are loath to drop this film into any sort of niche. "On one level it is very clearly a Mormon film with a built-in Mormon audience," says Matt Smith, "but the nature of the story--- boy meets girl, falls in love, saves town--- should propel it into far larger audiences. You make a good movie with good acting, a good story, and competent production elements and it will cross those lines under its own momentum. We have all of those things in abundance."

Think: "My Big Fat Mormon Barbecue" and you'll be getting the picture. Coming soon to a theater near you.

* * *


So, you might be asking, what happened to 'Love Logs On'? Well, the feature film directorial debut of short filmmaker Tucker T Dansie, which was planned to begin lensing in the summer of 2003 was postponed due lack of funding. The project, which was said to be budgeted at around $150,000 (not including 35mm film transfer) was well on its way and came up only about $40-50,000 dollars short of it projected budget before pushing the pause button.

The film was to be shot on Digital Video, a staple of Dansie's background (similar to his work on SUDDENLY UNEXPECTED), and the equipment was already put in his hands, something he's been provided with on all his films thanks to a partnership with local media company DIGOP ( whom Dansie has been partnering with on his short films for 5 years. Dansie even started his own production company, 9 by 9 Projects to begin co-producing the project along with DIGOP. 9 by 9 Projects now houses a fully digital non-linear Avid editing bay. This being said, Dansie has spent this summer hard at work on a script that he finally feels is 'perfect enough' to be spread to the world, which will have its first reading in competition at the Gloria International Film Festival.

The story is a fine balance between comedy and romance. The 'internet' storyline, was backed off enough that it 'pushes' the story without the audiences having to be computer geeks to understand it. And the big question still remains, is this an LDS movie? Dansie says that the film is a romantic comedy about two people who happen to be LDS. The subject of religion never comes into play as a major issue in their courtship, though. But there are a few instances where Christian humor, (not necessarily LDS humor) is used, but only for comic relief. This is LIMITED, never enough to isolate an audience member, and never enough to make the characters feel unbelievable. Dansie says that if he were making the SEQUEL to this movie, where their characters where becoming more intimate, the subject of religion would become more important to them. But since this is a light comedy and isn't meant to be tied down by too much "seriousness", religious discuss felt unnatural, no matter what religion you were.

Not only will "Love Logs On" be competing in the 2003 Gloria International Film Festival Screenplay Competition, but Dansie will be hoping to pitch the screenplay in the "Pitch Fest". Hopefully, this will generate potential interest as he looks for more investors.

Dansie also has plans to shoot a trailer for "Love Logs On" in the future and use it as part of a "Media Package" to interest potential investors. He is also working with local music talent to secure original music for the film.

* * *


In related news, Doug Wright of the KSL Radio "Movie Show" gave "The Legend of Johnny Lingo" 3 out of 4 stars. Wright called it a "solid 3" out of 4 stars, and highly recommended. Wright said he regretted that scheduling conflicts had prevented him from bringing more people with him to the screening, and that he wished his mother and wife had seen it with him, but that he would return with them to see it. Wright recognized some flaws in the movie, but was effulgent in his praise of the movie. You can listen to the review at:

LDS CINEMA RANKED BY LOCAL CRITICS - LDS Cinema, ranked by grades given by the local movie critics: Jeff Vice (Deseret Book), Sean P. Means (Salt Lake Tribune), Steve Salles (Ogden Standard Examiner) and Eric D. Snider (until recently at the Daily Herald of Utah County):

Best Loved LDS Cinema Moves of Utah Film Critics
1. God's Army (2000)
2. Brigham City  (2001)
3. Out of Step (2002)
4. Other Side of Heaven (2001)
5. Jack Weyland's Charly (2002)/The R.M. (2003) - tie
7. Handcart (2002)
8. Legend of Johnny Lingo (2003)
9. The Singles Ward (2002)
10. Book of Mormon Vol. 1 (2003)
"The Legend of Johnny Lingo" is technically not part of "LDS Cinema" genre, but is included here for reference.
Full data set can be found here:

* * *

FILMS COMPETING IN GLORIA FESTIVAL INCLUDES MANY BY LDS FILMMAKERS - The Gloria International Film Festival is an international film festival held in the Salt Lake City area. It is open to people of all nationalities and religious backgrounds, but as it is restricted to films which don't have R-rated content, and which exhibit ethical as well as cinematic excellence, there are naturally a lot of films by Latter-day Saints in the competition.

Among the films competing this year which were made by Latter-day Saints are:

- "Saints and Soldiers": LDS Cinema feature film directed by Canadian Latter-day Saint filmmaker Ryan Little. Little also directed the LDS Cinema movie "Out of Step" and was the Director of Photography for "The Singles Ward," "The R.M." and "The Home Teachers."

- "Unfolding": a short film by Austrian Latter-day Saint Christian Vuissa, the recipient of the 2002 Association for Mormon Letters Award for Film for his ground-breaking short "Roots & Wings." Vuissa recently started shooting his first feature film, the LDS Cinema movie "Eat, Drink and Get Married," starring Heather Beers of "Charly" fame.

- "Reading is Fundamental": short documentary by Salt Lake City-based Latter-day Saint filmmaker Spencer Christensen.

- "Claims & Dividends": Short film by BYU film student Ethan Vincent, who grew up in Germany and Austria.

- "The Birthing of Iosepa": A great documentary about Polynesian canoe-crafting customs and Polynesian Latter-day Saints, made by Brazilian Latter-day Saint filmmaker Daniel M. Skaf.

- "Polygamy and Me": autobiographical documentary by Lareena Smith, who was raised as an active Latter-day Saint until she became enamored with polygamist fundamentalism, and married into a polygamous family. She eventually became disenchanted with that lifestyle and is now anti-polygamous and also been a participant at several anti-LDS gatherings.

- "Chasing a Good Day to Die": Latter-day Saint filmmaker Paul Larsen's documentary about his family's adventures with peyote, narcotics laws and the Native American Church. Larsen has taught at both Brigham Young University and the University of Utah.

For the complete lineup and more detailed descriptions, see:

Other feature length films and documentaries competing in this year's Gloria Film Festival (most of which were made by non-Latter-day Saint filmmakers) include:
- Portrait of a Radical - The Jesus Movement (50 min; USA; 2000; directed by D.J. Kadagian)
- The Ballad of Little Joe: A VeggieTales movie (Special Screening; 50 minutes; USA; 2003)
- Muhammed: Legacy of a Prophet (116 minutes; USA; 2002; directed by Michael Schwarz)
- Brothers... On Holy Ground (a documentary about the firemen of 9/11) (54 minutes; USA; 2002; directed by Mike Lennon)
- Dead in the Water (70 minutes; USA; 2002; directed by Christopher Mitchell)
- State of the Union (45 minutes; USA; 2002; directed by D.J. Kadagian)
- A Legal Person (97 minutes; USA; 2003; directed by Donna Thomas and Paul Garstki)
- The Last Link (52 minutes; USA; 2002; directed by Ben Kahn)
- The Least of These (20 minutes; USA; 2002; directed by Rik Swartzwelder)
- Sophie (30 minutes; USA; 2002; directed by Helen Haeyoung Lee)
- It Just Is (20 minutes; USA; 2002; directed by Stuart Ball)
- Stealing Innocence (15 minutes; USA; 2002; directed by Nancy Stein)
- Moosh (28 minutes; Israel; 2001; directed by Erez Tadmor)
- A Living Illusion (23 minutes; USA; 2003; directed by Nilnjan Lahiri)
- Girl with Blue Eyes (5 minutes; USA; 2003; directed by James Holmes)
- Freedom Fries (6 minutes; USA; 2003; directed by Katie McLane)

The Gloria website states that there are "more films to come."

MORE ON THE GLORIA FILM FESTIVAL - The Gloria International Film Festival will be held in October.

Last year the festival was called the Salt Lake City International Film Festival, and was a huge success. Wayne L. Lee, the executive producer of "The Eleventh Hour Laborers," a documentary directed by Richard Dutcher about African-American Latter-day Saints, is the founder and president of the family-friendly but cinematically excellent festival.

Lee is one of the most influential African-American Latter-day Saints in the Utah film industry.

Some highlights from last year:

The festival notes the following films which were screened at last year's festival were PICKED UP FOR DISTRIBUTION:

- Bravo Giorgio!
- The Book and the Rose
- Terzo e Mondo
- Forgotten Voyage: The Mormon Sea Trek That Sparked The Gold Rush

Here is a great QuickTime reel showing highlights from last year's festival, including interviews with Latter-day Saint filmmakers Spencer Christensen and Paul Cross.

Highlights from 2002 Gloria International Film Festival (Salt Lake City International Film Festival):

* * *

NEW NEWSPAPER ARTICLE ABOUT NEW LDS CINEMA MOVIE "THE WORK AND THE STORY" - Note that "The Work and the Story" is now showing in some Utah comedy clubs, and will be premiering in big multiscreen theaters on October 3, 2003. The Jordan Commons website already shows it scheduled to play there, and other upcoming megaplex screenings have been previously announced from this website and will appear on our new Now Playing page. "The Work and the Story" was directed by Nathan Smith Jones. It stars Jones, along with Richard Dutcher, Kirby Heyborne, Dan Merkely (co-star with Heather Beers in the upcoming movie "Eat, Drink and Get Married"), and Jen Hoskins. Self-acclaimed film director Peter Beuhmann has stated that missing "The Work and the Story" is like slitting your wrists: "Some people will try to do it, but I wouldn't advise it." See for the article in BYU's newspaper the Daily Universe.

RICK REEVE: FIERY HOT LDS MUSICIAN, COMPOSER OF "DAY OF DEFENSE" SCORE - Rick Reeve is the composer for the LDS Cinema movie "Day of Defense," which will premiere on October 10th, 2003. The movie is already scheduled to play at Jordan Commons in Sandy, and will be in other venues as well. Sam Cardon, one of the top 3 film composers in Utah (one of the most talented and capable composers in the country, really) was a music score consultant for "Day of Defense." For more information about Rick and to check out his album, "In My Life", see

DETAILED ARTICLE ABOUT FAMILY OF LDS FILMMAKER/9-11 VICTIM CAROLYN BEUG - [Note: Sister Beug was a music producer whose credits include Disney's "Pocahontas" soundtrack CD and she also produced music videos, including an award-winning Van Halen video. She was also a budding children's book author. She was aboard one of the airplanes that crashed into the World Trade Center, thus she was among the first people identified as a victim on that day. Today's Salt Lake Tribune article deals not with her career, but with how her family today copes with the 9-11 tragedy.] See

CARMEN NOW A BYU FRESHMAN - Carmen Rasmusen, the Latter-day Saint singer who was thrust to fame as the star of the Number One rated TV series "American Idol," is now a freshmen at Brigham Young University. See




"SUDDENLY UNEXPECTED" NEWSPAPER ARTICLE - Detailed article in the Houston Press about Houston-made LDS-themed independent film "Suddenly Unexpected" See: