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

Weekend of October 3, 2003

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

Natl Film Title                Weekend Gross  % B.O. Theatrs
Rank LDS/Mormon Filmmaker/Star   Total Gross  Change  $/Thtr   Days
--- ---------------------------  -----------  ------ -------   ----
24  S.W.A.T.                         183,070  -62.4%     351     59
    LDS character                115,832,004            $522

47  The Book of Mormon Movie Vol. 1   56,021   -5.9%      34     24
    Gary Rogers                      516,860          $1,648
    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

53  Le Divorce                        44,525  -39.9%      63     59
    Matthew Modine (actor)         9,004,811            $707

66  Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure  15,073   -6.7%       6    969
    Scott Swofford (producer)     15,297,272          $2,512
    Reed Smoot (cinematographer)
    Sam Cardon (composer)
    Stephen L. Johnson (editor)

67  Galapagos                         10,849  -11.0%       4   1438
    Reed Smoot (cinematographer)  14,119,660          $2,712

83  Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man   3,146  +12.2%       2   1242
    Reed Smoot (cinematographer)  15,551,704          $1,573

84  China: The Panda Adventure         3,115  +43.3%       2    801
    Reed Smoot (cinematographer)   3,519,225          $1,558

89  The Work and the Story (NEW*)      2,192    --         5     *3
    Nathan Smith Jones                 4,642            $438
    Richard Dutcher (actor/story)
    Dan Merkley (actor/producer)
    Miriam Smith (producer)
    Frank Gerrish (assoc. producer, actor)
    Actors: Jennifer Hoskins, Eric Artell,
      Kirby Heyborne, Scott Christopher,
      Mitch English, Lincoln Hoppe, etc.
    Cinematographers: Ben Hurst,
      Tristan Whitman
    Film editors: Ron Ralston,
      Steve Hennessey, John Crossman

103 Cremaster 3                          330  -93.4%       1    164
    Mathew Barney                    465,248            $330
*"The Work and the Story" played for a month in three alternative venus (one independent theater in Logan and comedy clubs in Provo and Salt Lake City). Nevertheless, it was reported as opening this weekend. The movie's director reported that prior to this weekend's release, the movie took in approximtely $2450 in box office receipts during its month of "pre-release" in the 3 alternative venues.

CONFERENCE WEEKEND A BOON TO "THE BOOK OF MORMON MOVIE" - One statistic that jumps out from this week's box office report is that "The Book of Mormon Movie" saw its box office receipts drop "only" 5.92% from the previous weekend. This is an impressively low week-to-week drop-off number, and if maintained over several weekends can be a strong indicator of a film with legs. However, this particular statistic might also be a result of the conference weekend, with a large number of members coming to Salt Lake City and taking the opportunity to see the movie while they are here. This does not make this past weekend any less important for the movie, however, since these visitors will probably talk about what they thought of the movie when they return home, and this can have a powerful influence on how well the movie does from here on out.

CONFERENCE WEEKENDS PAST - How have LDS Cinema films done during conference weekends in the past? As always, it depends on the film. Here are weekend box office grosses for the various LDS Cinema films from conference weekends past:

1. God's Army (April 2000) - $105,862
2. Charly (October 2002) - $64,031
3. The Book of Mormon Movie (October 2003) - $56,321
4. The Other Side of Heaven (April 2002) - $30,164
5. The Singles Ward (April 2002) - $22,067
6. The R.M. (April 2003) - $21,626
7. The Work and the Story (October 2003) - $2,192

The only data listed is for conference weekends where it was likely that the film was playing primarily in Utah. Several of these films and other LDS Cinema films were in theaters during other conference weekends, but in each case, the film was late in its theatrical run and if it was still playing in Utah, it probably was only playing in dollar theaters and had also played in many other Western states by that time.

It is interesting to note that "Brigham City" did not play during a conference weekend - opening one week after the April General Conference in 2001 and ending its run before the October Conference of that year. Similarly, "Handcart" opened one week after the October 2002 General Conference, and "Day of Defense" is opening in theaters one week after the October Conference this year, which makes one wonder if LDS filmmakers are opening their films one week after conference on purpose and if so, what the logic behind this opening date might be.

CHANGE OF FORMAT FOR BOX OFFICE REPORT - At the request of readers, we have made some alterations in the format of our box office report. Specifically, we have added numbers for the change (percent) in box office gross from the previous weekend and for a per screen average for the weekend. This information was always available before - all it took was the previous week's box office report (from's archives if you didn't have your own copy) and some easy mathematical calculations - but now we have made these numbers, which are considered important in determining trends for a particular film, easily accessible without having to do all that math. co-webmaster Thomas C. Baggaley actually maintains a separate set of worksheets with week-by-week analysis for the LDS Cinema films for which data is available. Actually, he probably over-analyzes the data to the point that it's easy to get lost in lots of meaningless numbers, but he has fun doing it anyway. We regularly post copies of these spreadsheets and charts to the website in HTML or PDF form - the latest version can be seen by clicking on the "All LDS Cinema Box Office Performance Compared" link on the home page.

Just as a "for instance" of the kind of analysis (useful or useless) that can be found in this set of spreadsheets, Thomas has created a new pair of statistics, "Gross Per Theater-Week" and "Gross Per Theater-Weekend." One "theater-week" is a film playing on one screen for one week (usually Friday through Thursday). So if a film plays in a single theater for three weeks, this counts as three (3) theater-weeks. Likewise, a film playing in three theaters for a single week counts as three (3) theater-weeks. Dividing a film's total gross by the number of theater-weeks that film has run generates a number that represents the average amount of box office gross income a film has generated in one week at each theater during its run. While this statistic generally tends to decrease the longer a film is in theaters, it is a better indicator of a film's overall box office strength than simply taking an average of the "per theater" statistics over a period of time, because it takes into account that some weeks a film may be playing in many theaters and other weeks only in one or two. The "Gross Per Theater-Weekend" statistic is similarly generated, except it only uses box office receipts from weekends.

So how do the LDS Cinema films stack up with this statistic? Here are the numbers (with the special note that some of the holes in the data used to generate these numbers were filled in using estimates based on the data that was available. As a result, these numbers are not as completely accurate as we would hope, but they are close.):

$ Per Theater-Week
- - - - - - - - -
1. God's Army - $3,053
2. The Other Side of Heaven - $2,973
3. The Singles Ward - $2,922
4. The R.M. - $2,853
5. Brigham City - $1,998
6. Charly - $1,858
7. Handcart - $1,096

$ Per Theater-Weekend
- - - - - - - - - - -
1. The R.M. - $1,843
2. The Other Side of Heaven - $1,786
3. The Singles Ward - $1,720
4. God's Army - $1,682
5. Brigham City - $1,238
6. Charly - $1,142
7. Handcart - $737

These lists do not include The Book of Mormon Movie or The Work and the Story, since (because this number does tend to decrease the longer a film remains in theaters) it is more useful to compare numbers from similar points in a a film's theatrical run. As of this weekend, The Book of Mormon Movie had a $ Per Theater-Week of $4,428, which would place it 5th among LDS Cinema films after three weeks. Its $ Per Theater-Weekend number is $2,341, also putting it 5th among LDS Cinema films after four weekends. The Work and the Story only has one weekend of data currently reported, so it does not have a $ Per Theater-Week statistic yet, and its $ Per Theater-Weekend number is $438, the same as its Per Screen Average for this weekend.

We will not typically be including either of these statistics in our weekly box office report.

"THE WORK AND THE STORY" REVIEWS - Here are several of the local reviews of "The Work and the Story"
- Sean Means (SL Tribune) 2 stars out of 4 (
- Jeff Vice (Deseret Morning News) 2 stars out of 4 (,1257,360000209,00.html)
- Scott Renshaw (Salt Lake City Weekly) 2.5 stars out of 4 (
- Steve Salles (Ogden Standard Examiner) 1.5 stars out of 4
- Eric Snider ( reviewed the film a month ago and gave it a D+

"DAY OF DEFENSE" PREMIERE SET - The premiere of the next LDS Cinema film, "Day of Defense" will be at Jordan Commons on State St and 9400 S. Oct 8th at 7pm. After a party starting after the film and poster signing. "Day of Defense" will then be showing in select theatres across the western part of the country starting Friday, October 10th. The DVD and VHS will be released near the first of next year. "Day of Defense" is the 11th feature film released in the "LDS Cinema" genre. A limited Number of Tickets for the special premiere are available at Jordan Commons and online at:

"JOHNNY LINGO" IN SOCAL AND FLORIDA - "The Legend of Johnny Lingo" opened in several theaters in Southern California and Florida this weekend - see our "Now Playing" page at for specific theaters and showtimes.


ROGERS' "BOOK OF MORMON" MOVIE IN HAWAII, ARIZONA; BOM SEQUEL ON TRACK - "The Book of Mormon Movie, Vol. 1: The Journey" producer Gary Rogers has informed us that the film will be opening in one theater in Atlanta, Georgia and in two theaters in Hawaii on October 17th. Thus far, the film has been playing in some tiny markets in Utah such as Huntington, Price, Richfield, Elko, Burly, Ephriam, Vernal, Rosevelt, etc. In the near future it will only be playing on large screens in large markets - usually at just one theater in a metropolitan area. That combined with the unique distribution plan being implemented for this film almost guarantees that the film will continuously have a high per-screen ratio.

Rogers says that "There is no doubt that we will be producing Volume II on schedule." He adds that the script for Volume II is being written by "a very gifted writer." The Book of Mormon Movie will open in Arizona beginning 10/24 in theaters in Chandler, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Prescott and Tucson. It will also be opening in several locations in Canada. A new "Book of Mormon Movie, Vol. 1" website for Canadians was launched on Oct. 2. It gives similar information to the US website, but lists Canadian showings, information, and comments. The movie stars a Canadian actor. Noah Danby (who plays the main character Nephi) is from Guelph, Ontario.

CHRISTIAN-THEMED FILMS AT THE BOX OFFICE - Last week we mentioned an article by syndicated film reviewer Michael Medved in USA Today where he talked about a new wave of religious-themed movies that are coming out this fall, including most prominently, Mel Gibson's "The Passion." Each of these films feature well-known stars in larger budget (at least by LDS Cinema standards) productions with a pro-religious theme. We are watching how these films perform at the box office with some interest, because these films might be a good indicator of how an LDS Cinema film with a major star might also perform a la Richard Dutcher's plans for "The Prophet." In other words, what level of success in reaching a crossover audience can a well-known Hollywood star bring to a religious-themed film?

Two of these films were released last week: "Luther" and "The Gospel of John." After 10 days in the theaters, "Luther," which had a reported $25 million production budget and features Joseph Fiennes (of "Shakespeare in Love") as Martin Luther with supporting players such as Peter Ustinov and Alfred Molina had grossed $2,108,887, playing in 382 theaters. "Luther" was funded largely by a Lutheran insurance company and presents a very Lutheran view of the story of Martin Luther, key founder of the Protestant Reformation. "The Gospel of John," which had a $15 million budget and stars Henry Ian Cusick and Christopher Plummer, is only playing in 15 theaters so far and has grossed $239,097. Of course, in some respects, these films are just a warm-up act to the much-talked-about Gibson project.

* * *


More than two million copies have been sold of the nine-volume series The Work and the Glory, written by Gerald N. Lund and published by Deseret Book. It is likely the most popular historical fiction series any religious publisher has ever brought forth.

"With this much of a following, and with the significance of the events the series examines, it's time to make this historical story into a quality feature film. And that's what we'll be doing over the next year," announced Larry H. Miller.

Miller, along with film producer Scott Swofford and film director/screenwriter Russ Holt, detailed the project's timeline and purpose. Joining them was Deseret Book president and CEO Sheri Dew, representing the interests of the author and publisher. Deseret Book will also serve as the marketing and distribution partner for the movie soundtrack and future DVD and VHS products.

"We don't underestimate the magnitude of this film project," said Swofford. "We are properly funded, have a book that flows easily into a screenplay, and have collected the most qualified talent to produce what we believe will be a film of excellence. This story requires that."

Miller, Swofford and Holt have formed the company Manchester Pictures to handle the production of this film.

With a growing number of films produced for and by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Lund had been approached before for the movie rights to his series. "This offer was right, the pieces were all in place," said Miller, financial partner for the film and longtime friend of Lund. "He looked at the talent of those involved and knew it was the right opportunity. He is excited to watch his series, which took a significant part of his life to write, come to the big screen." Lund will be involved as script consultant on the film and Miller will be involved as an executive producer.

Although not able to attend the announcement (on LDS Church assignment in England), Lund issued the following: "I have complete confidence that the team assembled will produce a film that will engage the mind, lift the spirit and enliven the soul. I was especially pleased when Larry Miller became part of this project. His business wisdom and experience will bring a critical dimension to the team. But more than that, some of the people who were deeply involved in the Restoration story are Larry's ancestors.

"It has been gratifying to find that many people, including those who are not members of the LDS Church, have found the Restoration story to be compelling. My hope is that the movie will help people better understand the Restoration and the events that are so much a part of the LDS heritage and American history."

The first motion picture, The Work and the Glory, will cover volume one of the series. Set in the 1820s, it follows the Benjamin Steed family as they move to Palmyra Township in upstate New York. There they meet a young man named Joseph Smith and are caught up in the conflict and controversy surrounding him.

"The film is primarily a love story, set against the backdrop of the historical events of the day," said Swofford. "You have intrigue, suspense, romance, betrayal and dramatic action. These are the elements of any good motion picture."

It is expected that at least two sequels will follow, covering further volumes in the series.

Production on the film will begin this fall in the eastern U. S., portraying 19th century New England. Casting begins immediately, with talent searches being conducted in London, New York City and Los Angeles. "We're looking for highly experienced acting talent, not necessarily well-known names," said director Holt. "That doesn't mean we won't cast a known actor, but that isn't our primary focus." He referenced the film Sense and Sensibility as the level of performance quality the film team is pursuing. The movie is projected to take 12 to 14 months for production and is expected to be in theaters in late 2004 or early 2005.

"The Work and the Glory series is one-of-a-kind," said Dew. "As the publisher of this series, we have complete confidence in the integrity of those producing this movie and that the integrity of the books will be maintained while crafting an artistic and first-rate movie. Everyone involved with this production epitomizes excellence and quality. This movie is going to touch many lives."

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WAIT! WASN'T MILLER FUNDING DUTCHER'S FILM? - Larry H. Miller downplayed his role in providing the seed money for Dutcher's cinematic love child, "The Prophet." See,1249,515035777,00.html

AND WHAT DOES DUTCHER THINK OF ALL THIS? - Richard Dutcher has written a statement supporting the upcoming Swofford/Holt movie adaptation of Lund's "The Work and the Glory"

Dutcher's official statement was to be released to the press earlier this week although so far it hasn't surfaced in any local papers that we are aware of.

Lest anyone think it wildly inappropriate that Richard Dutcher issue a statement about a movie he isn't even connected to... It may be pointed out that many see him as something of a leader of the LDS Cinema movement, as the director of the first two movies in the genre: "God's Army" and "Brigham City."

Also, some people might think that the $7.4 million that auto/Jazz NBA mogul Larry H. Miller is putting into "The Work and the Glory" was previously pledged to Dutcher's Joseph Smith biopic project "The Prophet." The Deseret News published an article yesterday quoting Miller's recent comments about his involvement with funding "The Prophet." Dutcher's statement today may or may not address the topic from his perspective.

Dutcher has gone on record in previous interviews stating that both economic considerations (expected profitability of the project as well as availability of investment capital) as well as the potentially controversial subject matter of "The Prophet" are both factors in his having had difficulty securing funding for the movie from Miller and others.

* * *

RICHARD DUTCHER AND JONGIORGI ENOS FORM UTAH FILMMAKERS ALLIANCE - Anyway, Richard Dutcher is pretty busy working on other things right now. From the UFA Press Release:

Richard Dutcher announced today that he has founded a new nonprofit organization called the Utah Filmmakers Alliance. One of Dutcher's long-time dreams has been to create an organization that can give back to the community and foster the arts in the region. As a student of and lover of movies of all types since childhood, Dutcher has wanted to sponsor a group that would foster independent film in general.

The Utah Filmmakers Alliance ("UFA") is that organization.

Dutcher explained that he has brought in longtime associate, Jongiorgi Enos, to serve as Managing Director of the fledgling arts group, and the two held an Open House introducing the UFA on Friday, October 3, 2003, from 11:00 in the morning until 8:00 that night at their offices at 37 East Center Street, Second Floor, in Provo, Utah. This open house was so successful that a second open house is scheduled at the same location on Friday, October 10, 2003, from 11:00 AM until 7:00 PM for those who missed the first open house.

Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, the UFA is envisioned as an open and nurturing artistic community that will foster the arts in Utah, particularly filmmaking, and those artists that inform, support and sustain filmmaking, such as: actors, writers, musicians, designers and graphic artists, etc., as well as the technology and science that helps create and distribute these artists' work.

Although Dutcher is famous for catapulting a "Mormon niche" in film, the UFA is created to support independent film of all types.

Utah is famous for being a hot-bed for independent filmmakers - at least during the couple of weeks a year that the Sundance Film Festival is in session. Sterling Van Wagenen, co-founder of Sundance, has agreed to serve for a term as one of the founding Board Members of UFA, along with a host of established Utah filmmakers, including Trent Harris, Lee Groberg, Bruce Neibaur and Blair Treu. More detailed information about the organization will be presented in press packets available at the open house.

The Utah Filmmakers Alliance, a nonprofit corporation, may be contacted at 37 East Center Street, Suite 204, Provo, Utah 84606. Phone number is (801) 374-4UFA (4832). E-mail Web site: All 501(c)(3) tax-deductible donations are acceptable. UFA Membership is $35 annually (students and volunteers) and $50 annually (general members). Membership includes access to all UFA general functions (some special events will have extra entry fees or tuition), discounts on tuition and entry fees to special events, other ticket discounts to selected theaters, access to the Member Library, including media periodicals, and other benefits.


Film composer Thomas Baggaley will be participating in a panel discussion at the Gloria International Film Festival. Mr. Baggaley will be part of the discussion titled Film and Music: Powerful Tools to Enrich the World. Thomas scored Christian Vuissa's award winning short film "Unfolding" and worked on the score of "The Book of Mormon Movie, Vol. 1: The Journey." This panel discussing will be Fri, Oct 17 at 7 pm. Tickets are available at SmithTix or on our website: There are still spots available for two of our workshops Director's Crash Course on Fri Oct 17 and Producing on Sat Oct 18. You can register by calling (323) 467-6580.

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MOVIE TRAILER ONLINE FOR ANDRE BLACK'S "PRIDE AND PREJUDICE" STARRING CARMEN RASMUSEN - You can find the new "Pride and Prejudice: a latter-day comedy" trailer at the official website at:

If you have difficulty accessing it from that site, you can find the QuickTime file temporarily at:

I strongly encourage you to check out the trailer. It looks like this is a simply amazing film. It is obvious that the movie features strong acting, fun music and a fresh, romantic sense of humor.

It is worth noting that, judging strictly from the trailer, it looks like "Pride and Prejudice" may be the LDS Cinema that more than any other in the genre is a cross-over movie in its sensibilities.

This is not a value judgement. In terms of the intrinsic value and worth of a movie, it is neither a good nor a bad thing for a movie to have crossover potential. This is a value-neutral characteristic. Nor is this a predictor of box office potential.

This LDS-themed version of Jane Austen's novel is the first LDS Cinema movie to be based on source material authored by a non-LDS source. It will also be the first LDS Cinema movie released that was directed by a non-North American director: Scottish director Andrew Black. ("Out of Step"/"Saints and Soldiers" director Ryan Little is non-U.S. born, but he is Canadian.) "Pride and Prejudice" is being released just months before the completion of another LDS Cinema movie directed by a European: "Eat, Drink and Get Married," directed by Austrian director Christian Vuissa.

"Saints and Soldiers", "Pride and Prejudice" and "Eat, Drink and Get Married" are the much talked about trio of LDS Cinema movies being released soon which were helmed by young directors who already have a track record of award-winning, critically acclaimed films. Critics are watching these three carefully to see if one will emerge as the long-fabled "BC Killer", that is, the LDS Cinema movie which will depose "Brigham City" from its long held spot as the most critically acclaimed film in the genre.

None of this should minimize or take away from the efforts of filmmakers such as Adam Lawson ("Day of Defense") and Scott S. Anderson ("The Best Two Years"). But there's simply less than can be said or predicted about these director's movies and the critics' likely response to them, as these filmmakers have not already produced a corpus of publicly viewable award-winning films as have Vuissa, Black and Little.

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EXCEL WILL DISTRIBUTE "PRIDE AND PREJUDICE" - Press release: Excel Entertainment Group, one of the nation's top limited-release film distributors, announced today the inking of a deal with BestBoy Pictures for the theatrical and video distribution of the romantic comedy "Pride and Prejudice."

Scheduled for release sometime late this holiday season, "Pride and Prejudicea latter-day comedy" is a clever, modern, comedic adaptation of the quintessential Jane Austen classic. Fans of the novel will be happy to note that the comedy closely follows the characters and situations of the original novel, even retaining original character names, but in a present-day suburban setting.

"Pride and Prejudice" centers on Elizabeth Bennet, a hard-working college student and aspiring novelist who doesn't want to even think about marriage, even while her roommates are endlessly searching for husbands. Then she meets a handsome playboy named Wickham and a stern businessman named Darcy and her carefully constructed world flies to pieces.

"We are very excited about this film," says Jeff Simpson, president of Excel Entertainment Group. "It's beautifully made, it's funny, it has heart. The overall direction and production design are fantastic and the cast is wonderful."

Starring a fresh-faced cast based primarily in LA, the pic boasts some outstanding performances from relative newcomers Kam Heskin ("Catch Me if You Can") as Elizabeth and British-born Orlando Seale ("Legend of Sleepy Hollow") as Darcy. Other notable performances come from Hubbel Palmer as the overbearing Collins and Kelly Stables ("Haunted Mansion") as Lydia, the most boy-crazy of Elizabeth's roommates. Carmen Rasmusen of American Idol fame also has a small role in the film, and lends her voice to the soundtrack.

"Pride and Prejudice" is the feature film debut for Scottish director Andrew Black. Black is the award-winning director of the short film "The Snell Show" which won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short at the 2003 Slamdance Film Festival, and is being considered for a 2004 Academy Award nomination. Black worked with South African co-producer Kynan Griffin and Canadian producer Jason Faller on both "The Snell Show" and this most recent pic. Executive producer Daniel Shanthakumar, originally from India, rounds out the international group of filmmakers responsible for "Pride and Prejudice."

"Pride and Prejudice is the only one of Austen's classics that hasn't hit the big screen in the last twenty years," says producer Faller. "The A&E television version was fabulous, and very popular, so it's surprising that we haven't seen a theatrical version since 1940. We've seen adaptations of Emma, Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility, and Persuasion, but of all Austen's novels, Pride by far has the largest and most loyal following. It's about time fans of the story get to see it on the silver screen. And we really had fun with the modern setting."

In early 2002, Excel Entertainment Group's Motion Picture division was ranked 8th on a list of top limited-release distributors by ACNeilsen EDI. The company has also distributed indie hits like "God's Army," "Brigham City" and "The Other Side of Heaven" into nearly every market in the United States and into several international markets, including Canada, Mexico and New Zealand. In addition to film distribution, Excel Entertainment Group oversees an artist management division and a music and video retail distribution division.

CARMEN 12TH BILLED ACTOR IN "PRIDE AND PREJUDICE" - Latter-day Saint singing superstar Carmen Rasmusen, who was the star of the #1 rated TV show "American Idol," makes her big screen debut in the upcoming LDS Cinema movie "Pride and Prejudice," directed by Andrew Black.

According the official website at, Sister Rasmusen will receive 12th billing on the poster in the movie... Okay, twelfth billing isn't as good as top billing, but it's better than no billing.

"Pride and Prejudice" has a predominantly non-LDS cast. One of the other LDS actors who receives poster billing (ahead of Carmen, in fact) is Hubbel Palmer, BYU film and theater dept. student. Palmer previously received top billing in the short BYU student films "Hoagies" (which he also directed) and "Jip," and had a major role in the short student film "Indecision."

The use of a predominantly LDS or predominantly non-LDS cast has not been a predictor of a movie's box office or critical success. Movies of both types have been among the critically acclaimed and the critically rejected, and have been on both ends of the box office chart.

Predominantly Non-LD Cast:
God's Army
The Other Side of Heaven
Suddenly Unexpected
Pride and Prejudice

Predominantly LDS Cast:
Brigham City
The Singles Ward
Out of Step
Jack Weyland's Charly
The R.M.
The Work and the Story
The Book of Mormon Movie, Vol. 1: The Journey
Day of Defense
The Best Two Years
Saints and Soldiers

At least one Latter-day Saint actor has had a major, poster-billed role in every one of these movies except for "The Other Side of Heaven."

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AFTER ALL THAT TALK ABOUT OTHER LDS CINEMA FILMS ... BEST TWO YEARS SIMPLY THE BEST - One of's co-webmasters reports: I saw a preview screening of "The Best Two Years" last Friday. My wife and I both enjoyed it more than any LDS Cinema film so far - including "God's Army" and "The Other Side of Heaven". It will play really well in the LDS market.

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AWESOME LDS-MADE "SIGNING TIMES" VIDEOS GETTING RAVE REVIEWS FROM ALL QUARTERS - This article is about the Signing Time video products that Excel Distributes. This article appeared in the San Jose Mercury News.

The "Signing Time" series of videos and DVDs were made by Latter-day Saint filmmakers and singers, including Rachel de Azevedo and her father Lex de Azevedo. Kids love these videos and solidly acquire sign language skill while watching them.

Here's a list of some of the great publicity recently received by the Signing Times DVD/VHS series.
Aug 03 ladies Home Journal Article
Aug 03 Ut Business
July 02 Channel 2 news story UT
Mar 03 Arizona Republic story
Mar 03 Working Mother Magazine
Feb 03 NBC's Today Show
July 03 Washington Times story
Utah Health
Good Things UT (NBC)
SLC Fox news, NBC, CBS, ABC
Deseret News
Catalyst review
LA parent review

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KURT HALE/JOHN E. MOYER ("SINGLES WARD", "THE R.M.") HEADLINING PROVO WRITER'S CONFERENCE - The Association for Mormon Letters Presents Our Fifth Annual LDS Writers Conference "Writing LDS-Themed Stories for Us and Them"

Saturday, November 1, 2003
9 A.M. to 5 P.M. (registration begins at 8:30 A.M.)
Provo Library
550 North University Avenue
Provo, Utah

Featured presenters include Rulon T. Burton, Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury, Jongiorgi Enos, Mette Harrison, Kenny Kemp, Julie Olsen, Eric Samuelsen, Rick Walton, Carol Williams, Ron Woods, Randall Wright, and more

Special advance screening of "The Best Two Years," a new missionary film scheduled for theatrical release in February 2004, plus a plenary session with Halestorm filmmaker Kurt Hale and screenwriter John Moyer

Sessions on the craft of writing with an LDS twist, including generating ideas, building a plot, creating well-rounded characters, and overcoming writer's block

Sessions on publishing, including self-publishing and current LDS publishing trends

Sessions on writing for young people, including "The Picture Book Process: Writing, Illustrating, and Marketing" and "Starting, Finishing, and Placing a First Young Adult or Middle-Grade Novel"

Lucky 13 Workshops: For a small additional fee, you can get feedback on a 13-line opening hook, 13-line descriptive passage, or 13-line plot synopsis. Bring your work to read aloud; you can also bring extra photocopies, if desired. There is no additional fee to attend these workshop sessions and give feedback.

At-the-door admission, including luncheon: $40 for the general public, $35 for current AML members, $30 for full-time students. (If lunch tickets sell out, admission price will be reduced.)

For continually updated information about this writers conference, visit For questions, contact us at We look forward to seeing you there!

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THE CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS IN PRE-PRODUCTION... TO BE SHOT IN MT. PLEASANT, UTAH - Just wanted to give you the heads-up on a short film being shot locally in Mt. Pleasant, Utah. It's called The Christmas Stockings, and it is currently in pre-production. The shooting schedule has not yet been made, but we hope to start filming near the end of October. Here is the synopsis:

"The Christmas Stockings is a story about a homeless man and his daughter who are helped by an older friend of the family, and the parishoner of the local church. They get a new home and the dad gets a job, all on Christmas Eve."

Central Utah Filmmakers Association located at:
Wasatch Studios
67 West Main Street
Mt. Pleasant, Utah 84647

We will be airing the film on the local Public Access Cable channel in Sanpete, and possibly some local television networks in Salt Lake City. We also hope to get minor straight-to-video distribution. Let me know if you need any more information. Most of the lead roles have already been cast, but we can use some more background talent. Remember, this is being filmed locally in Sanpete County, which is a two hour drive from Salt Lake City.

Aaron Justesen

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DANSIE SEEKING LOCATION HELP FOR NEW SLC-AREA FILM SHOOT - Tucker T Dansie, the writer/ director behind the inspirational series One of Life's Little Lessons is looking for the final story in his series. He currently has 2 stories he is preparing and is turning to you for help in finding a location for one of the films. The film is in need of:

A home, which has a small creek in the backyard, which separates it from another home. It could be a field, with an irrigation ditch. It could be a home with a guest house behind it, which has a creek for decoration. Or it could be a home with a large field or ranch which has a creek between it and another house far in the distance.

The story to be committed to film is the story that is currently circulating the internet called The Carpenter about a young carpenter who builds a bridge across a small creek to reunite 2 brothers who have been feuding.

If anyone can help with this location by either owning something like this, or knowing someone who does and is interested in helping a young filmmaker, or for more information, please contact me at and I can talk with you further. Current films in the Lessons series can be seen on-line at They will soon be taken offline as they are being re-edited and scored for distribution, so this may be your last chance to see them for awhile.

Tucker Dansie

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"THE MOVIE NEPHTE": NEW LDS CINEMA REVIEW SITE - The new site's creator writes:

To everyone, I am Colin Liddle I'm 15 and an LDS Filmmaker myself, and a LDS movie reviewer. This is a new site I have made to review movies, get interviews and many other things. So far I have reviewed the Book of Mormon Movie, The Work and the Story and the Best Two Years, by the time you read this I may have reviewed many more, I plan to go back and review previously released LDS movies for archives.

This site was not made to compete with, just like Charly was not made to compete with The RM. Just a fellow LDS site, in which I also have a recommendation on the site to go to I love LDS movies, and this is why I am starting this site. I will be reviewing all the upcoming LDS films such as Day of Defense, The Home Teachers and Saints and Soldiers. I am looking forward to all of them.

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The Davis Recall is now under way.

For two years -- since 2001 -- Latter-day Saint screenwriter/director Mitch Davis has reigned supreme as the box office champ of LDS cinema, having wrested the title from Richard Dutcher. Davis' movie "The Other Side of Heaven" grossed $4.7 million at the box office, making it the top-grossing LDS Cinema movie at the box office. Not only that, the performance of this single movie out was more than the combined box office for Dutcher's two releases thus far: "God's Army" and "Brigham City" grossed a total of $3,533,902. Kurt Hale's "The Singles Ward" and "The R.M." grossed a total of $2,336,290. This means that Davis holds two box office titles: highest grossing LDS Cinema movie and highest grossing career total LDS Cinema director.

Many have pointed out that Davis' tenure as Box Office Champ is plagued by a record deficit. For while it is true that "The Other Side of Heaven" grossed more than any other LDS Cinema movie, it also out spent all other films in the genre with its $7 million production budget and its print/advertising costs. The Davis camp can correctly point to considerable revenues from foreign licensing and video/DVD sales, spurred significantly by an unprecedented distribution deal with Disney Home Video. But from an investment perspective, the numbers still strike many as an unwise strategy.

A number of new LDS Cinema movies, exhibiting a new level of excellence in cinematic quality, target audience appeal and crossover potential, are poised for release.

Among the most promising of these ventures is "Eat, Drink and Get Married," directed by Austrian Latter-day Saint Christian Vuissa. A favorite among film critics, Vuissa's romantic comedy stars none other than Heather Beers, whose stunning debut in "Jack Weyland's Charly" left audiences clamoring for more. "Eat, Drink" should have broad appeal, with a talented filmmaker at the helm and a fresh plot under the hood. Dan Merkely ("The Work and the Story") plays a 29-year-old Latter-day Saint who flees Provo to avoid pressures to marry, and finds himself in a middle-of-nowhere town equally divided between feuding Baptists and Latter-day Saints. Vuissa is a thoughtful, detail-oriented filmmaker whose past work recalls the best of Ingmar Bergman or Akira Kurosawa, while Robert Farrell Smith's insightful and hilarious source material, the popular novel _Baptists at Our Barbecue_, is a great example of why Smith is called the "Latter-day Saint Mark Twain."

"Eat, Drink" is sure to be a critical success, but whether it strikes sufficient box office gold to unseat Davis remains to be seen.

A number of other contenders have thrown their hat in the ring. Gary Rogers, although considered an industry outsider, has had a strong start in the race. Grossing more than $500,000 after less than a month in release, Rogers' "The Book of Mormon Movie, Vol. 1: The Journey" is set to open in numerous venus across the country (and abroad), where its box office potential will be further tapped. Still, with decidedly mixed audience reaction and pans from newspaper reviewers, "Book of Mormon" probably lacks what it takes to top Davis' $4.7 million at the U.S. box office alone.

Seemingly out of nowhere is Scott S. Anderson, whose "The Best Two Years" stars audience favorite Kirby Heyborne. The movie's general release has been postponed until early 2004, but many reviewers and fans privileged enough to see it in special preview screenings have called it THE best LDS Cinema movie yet released. It will be distributed by HaleStone Entertainment, a "veteran" of the industry after already distributing "The Singles Ward" and "The R.M." Its central theme of full-time missionaries in a foreign land is precisely the one that carried "The Other Side of Heaven" to its current roost. Will a focus on four elders in Scandinavia prove as appealing as 1 Elder in Tonga? Will the artistic excellence and pitch-perfect acting of "The Best Two Years" attract enough extra moviegoers for the film to surpass previous HaleStorm releases and other LDS Cinema outings?

Despite its quality, a story of Latter-day Saint missionaries won't attract everybody. A movie with potentially broader appeal is Scottish Latter-day Saint filmmaker Andrew Black's "Pride and Prejudice: a latter-day comedy." Set at BYU, Jane Austen's classic and much-loved novel has been retold for today in in what looks like an excellent and very fun feature-length debut. "Pride and Prejudice" looks like it has "crossover" written all over it. Its lead players are not Latter-day Saints (although they play LDS characters) and its source material was written by one of the best-loved writers in history (also a non-Latter-day Saint). If the novel is sufficiently true to its source material to both please reviewers and attract Austen fans from all backgrounds, this flick could go far, despite its no-name cast (aside from reality TV darling Carmen Rasmusen in a small role) and relatively unknown director.

The big guns, however, belong to Canadian Latter-day Saint filmmaker Ryan Little, returning after his first critically successful feature film outing ("Out of Step") with "Saints and Soldiers," a story set on the European battlefields of World War II. "Saints and Soldiers" has not yet been released in commercial theaters, but has already been screened at 4 major film festivals. Amazingly, it won the Best Feature Film or Audience Choice awards in all four festivals. This bodes well for its eventual approval by critics and audiences alike. Plus it is heavy on crossover appeal. Only one main character is actually a Latter-day Saint, and his affiliation isn't even mentioned by name in the movie. This well made war movie should attract some moviegoers from outside Latter-day Saint audiences, and sounds like it is it is good enough to persuade LDS moviegoers who have skipped LDS Cinema fare that critics have given thumbs down to, such as "The Book of Mormon Movie."

Keep in mind, I haven't seen ANY of these new movies (Tom has seen some of them, but I haven't). But my pick for the movie most likely to best "The Other Side of Heaven" and unseat Davis as LDS Cinema Box Office Champ: "Saints and Soldiers," directed by Ryan Little.

Remember the 34th Rule of Acquisition: "War is good for business."

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"THE WORK AND THE STORY" EXPANDED RELEASE - In case you didn't notice, "The Work and the Story" is now playing in 5 theaters along the Wasatch Front. The mockumentary does not have a huge promotions budget, so you may very well not have noticed, although Nathan Smith and company have been observed working very hard to try and get the word out. At times their efforts might seem to have attracted as much attention as the guy on the corner with a sandwich sign that says "The End is Near" on it - unfortunately with about as much success too. After its first OFFICIAL weekend in theaters - we're just going to ignore the month the film was playing up in Logan - "The Work and the Story" grossed $2,192 despite some rave reviews from Peter Beuhmann, "senior movie critic for 'USA Now Today'" (who, coincidentally, has the same name as one of the main characters in the film), and another positive review posted at the website by Nathan Smith Jones himself. Peter Beuhmann's review follows in its entirety:

I am not nor have I ever been suicidal. But I truly feel like I can die now. After seeing "The Work and the Story," a new film spoofing the nascent "LDS Cinema" genre, I have a feeling that my life is complete. Everything, I fear, will pale in comparison to my experience in the movie theater. Everything except seeing the movie again, which I plan to do frequently. And talking about the film, which I plan to do as well. With my friends, co-workers, wife, children, parents, people I served a mission with, people in my ward, girlfriend, and most especially other movie critics.

I called Roger today and could not stop talking about "The Work and the Story." He has not yet reviewed the movie for the Chicago Sun-Times, but he said he is anxious to. Gene said he has already seen it and plans to give it his highest recomendation, but his segment can't air yet because the movie has not yet opened nationally.

Too bad for the nation. Good news for Utah.

For only in Utah can movie goers currently experience the awesome bliss that is "The Work and the Story."

I hesitate to even call "The Work and the Story" a movie. That would be like calling Michaelangelo's David a "statue." It is, but it's also something more, is it not? When does a work of art transcend the bounds of its form and become something so much more? If you aren't sure, go see "The Work and the Story."

Is it the best movie ever made? Yes... Yes, it is. This goes without saying. Not a single person in the theater I saw it with left without laughing more profusely than they ever had in their lives. All had also been moved to tears by the film's many touching moments. All had committed to leading better lives, being better husbands and wives and fathers and mothers. All knew that their lives had been transformed. And this was an audience of cynical, cold-hearted movie critics. How much more sublime will be the experience for the typical moviegoer, one who has not made up his or her mind beforehand to hate every movie made locally or which does not have Christopher Walken in it?

I am torn today in pondering whether "The Work and the Story" is superior not only to all other movies, but to other great human achievements as well. I re-read the Magna Carta today, and I believe that, yes, "The Work and the Story" is a more monumental achievement. Not only artistically, but in its potential impact as well. I am carefully considering penicillin, and so far "The Work and the Story" is a greater achievement than that as well in my mind. The Book of Psalms? Not bad. But "The Work and the Story": better.

To praise the movie's flawless acting, incomparable script, mind-numbingly perfect cinematography, and sublime production design would be reductionist. To do so would suggest that some aspect of the movie might NOT be superlative, which, of course, is not the case. Suffice it to say that you WILL go see "The Work and the Story," and you WILL take as many people with you as you possibly can. You will risk losing your job, your standing in the community, your family, anything that is near and dear to you, just so you can see this movie as soon as possible, and as frequently as possible. Any other course is unimaginable, and would only exhibit a profound lack of artistic appreciation and morality on your part.

To those who would question my enthusiasm for this work of art, or wonder if there is the even the slightest exaggeration on my part, I can only say this: You haven't seen it yet, have you?

Copyright 2003 by Peter Beuhmann
USA Now Today

It's enough to make you want to help these guys. So I'll tell you what: let's each commit to telling three people in the Salt Lake City area that "The Work and the Story" is playing in theaters now and ask them each to tell three more people and have THEM tell three MORE people and so on. I'm sure that such a showing of cooperation and support should be enough to make Mr. Beuhmann shed a tear or two of gratitude.