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

Weekend of October 10, 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.                         229,622  +25.4%     237     66
    LDS character                116,124,647            $969

49  The Book of Mormon Movie Vol. 1   50,302  -10.2%      29     31
    Gary Rogers                      638,189          $1,735
    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

64  Le Divorce                        17,369  -61.0%      25     66
    Matthew Modine (actor)         9,039,295            $695

65  Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure  16,214   +7.6%       8    976
    Scott Swofford (producer)     15,320,121          $2,026
    Reed Smoot (cinematographer)
    Sam Cardon (composer)
    Stephen L. Johnson (editor)

77  Galapagos                          6,812  -37.2%       3   1445
    Reed Smoot (cinematographer)  14,127,450          $2,271

89  Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man   4,188  +33.1%       2   1249
    Reed Smoot (cinematographer)  15,558,296          $2,094

90  Cremaster 3                        3,686 +1,017%       5    171
    Mathew Barney                    469,137            $737

99  China: The Panda Adventure         2,174  -30.2%       2    808
    Reed Smoot (cinematographer)   3,523,180          $1,087

DUTCHER/MILLER/EXCEL MIX IT UP: SOME SORT OF BIG ANNOUNCEMENT IS COMING - We're not saying what it is, but Jazz owner Larry H. Miller and Richard Dutcher are scheduled to hold a press conference this Thursday. They plan to announce something that "will have significant consequences regarding the future of 'Mormon Cinema.'" Thomas will be in attendance, representing both and Meridian Magazine, so we'll let you know what happened as soon as we can. Stay tuned...

GLORIA FILM FESTIVAL THIS WEEK - This week (October 16-18) is the Gloria Film Festival (formerly known as the Salt Lake City Film Festival) in West Valley City, Utah. The festival offers a full slate of screenings, workshops, panel discussions and other activities. The festival is open to filmmakers of all backgrounds. Its focus is on artistically accomplished films which are also ethical. The films at the festival could be called "family friendly," although they are in no way specifically intended as "family films" and certainly are not "children's films."

For a list of the films competing in the festival and screening times, visit

A list of festival workshops can be found at

Information regarding panel discussions and other festival events can be found at

There are quite a few LDS filmmakers involved in the festival as organizers, panelists, volunteers and competitors - too many to list here. Latter-day Saint filmmaker Wayne L. Lee is the founder of the festival. Our recommendation: Go and enjoy as much of the festival as you possibly can. It all looks good to us!

Certainly one of the highlights of the festival will be screenings of the eagerly anticipated LDS Cinema movie "Saints and Soldiers," directed by Ryan Little. As LDS film fans know, Little was the director of "Out of Step," which has been the most critically acclaimed LDS Cinema movie yet released, aside from Dutcher's "God's Army" and "Brigham City." Little's "Saints and Soldiers" will not hit theaters for many months now, so this is a rare chance to see it. Many in the industry think that "Saints and Soldiers" may the odds-on favorite to break the longstanding record held by "Brigham City" as the LDS Cinema film with the highest marks from professional reviewers.

Another hot ticket at Gloria is Brazilian Latter-day Saint filmmaker Daniel M. Skaf's extraordinarily interesting and quite inspiring documentary "The Birthing of Iosepa," which is about Polynesian Latter-day Saint culture generally, and specifically about the creation of a traditional double-hulled Hawaiian voyaging canoe by Latter-day Saints from a variety of Polynesian backgrounds.

If you haven't already seen it, you can check out Latter-day Saint filmmaker Paul Larsen's autobiographical documentary "Chasing a Good Day to Die," which recounts his adventures with peyote and the Native American Church. Larsen has taught film at the University of Utah and BYU.

Austrian Latter-day Saint filmmaker Christian Vuissa is now in post-production on his much-anticipated feature film "Eat, Drink and Get Married" (starring Heather Beers). His last short film was the award-winning "Unfolding," which is now available on video, but looks great on the big screen. "Unfolding" will be shown at Gloria as part of the Short Films Program A, along with Salt Lake City-based Latter-day Saint filmmaker Spencer Christensen's short documentary "Reading is Fundamental" and Mormon filmmaker Lareena Smith's autobiographical documentary "Polygamy and Me," which portrays her strange trip out of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and into a polygamous culture. Latter-day Saint filmmaker Ethan Vincent's short film "Claims & Dividends" will be screened as part of the Short Films Program B.

There are many other films been shown at the Gloria Film Festival, which features work from filmmakers from around the world. This is one of the nation's best film festivals for checking out films that are cinematically exceptional and also worthwhile and ethical.

* * *

THE BOOK OF MORMON MOVIE'S GOT LEGS? - In its fourth week in theaters, "The Book of Mormon Movie" actually grossed more at the box office than it did in its third week, even though it played in fewer theaters and hadn't yet opened in Arizona, Georgia or Hawaii (its next scheduled stops in the United States). The weekend numbers did drop, but again this was a relatively small drop (only 10.2%), while the numbers from Monday through Thursday were actually up from the previous week. Is this because of strong word-of-mouth - theatergoers who recommend it to their friends? Maybe, but usually even the best films experience a weekly drop in attendance the longer they play in theaters, regardless of what happens with word-of-mouth and repeat audiences. Credit for this could go to ads for the film which now say "Leaving Soon" and have helped to motivate those who had procrastinated the day of their attendance to get into the theaters and see the film before they've missed their chance. Remember: If you do not see this movie, you forfeit your chance to ethically and in good conscience criticize or praise it.

"DAY OF DEFENSE" RELEASED - Last weekend saw the release of yet another LDS Cinema film, "Day of Defense," meaning theatergoers in the Salt Lake City and Provo/Orem areas actually had the choice of seeing any of FOUR LDS-market features (if you count "The Legend of Johnny Lingo") this past weekend. In a couple of theaters, THREE of these theaters were playing on different screens at the same time (although we didn't find a theater that was playing all four of them). To run through the list, these four films would be 1) The Legend of Johnny Lingo, 2) The Work and the Story, 3) The Book of Mormon Movie and 4) Day of Defense. And that's just in Utah. "The R.M.", although it has already been released on video and DVD, is apparently still playing in one theater in La Brea, California - albeit with just one scheduled showtime per day - and of course, "The Book of Mormon Movie" is also playing in Idaho and Nevada and "The Legend of Johnny Lingo" is appearing in theaters in California, Colorado and Florida as well. Unfortunately, we do not have any box office numbers for most of these films this weekend. In fact, "The Book of Mormon Movie" is the ONLY one of these five films to report a box office number to the usual reporting channels, so we can't tell you how they all did.

Jeff Vice, Deseret News - 1 star out of 4 (,1249,515037578,00.html)
Sean Means, Salt Lake Tribune - 1 star out of 4 - (
Steve Salles, Ogden Standard-Examiner - 1 star out of 4
Joe Ghiz, Daily Universe (
Eric Snider, - F (

* * *

WHILE WE'RE ON THE SUBJECT OF REVIEWS - The following reviews of these other LDS-interest films appeared during the week:
Orlando Weekly on "The Legend of Johnny Lingo" - See
The Spectrum (St. George) on "The Book of Mormon Movie" - See:
Red (Utah weekly arts/entertainment magazine) on "Johnny Lingo" - See:
Tooele Transcript-Bulletin on "The Book of Mormon Movie" - See:
An early Daily Universe review of "Best Two Years" - See:

* * *

NAPOLEON DYNAMITE - "Napoleon Dynamite" is a feature film, now in post-production, written and directed by Latter-day Saint filmmaker Jared Hess, a graduate of BYU film school. The film is an expansion of Hess' award-winning short film "Peluca," which took home honors from the last Slamdance Film Festival. Article about Napoleon Dynamite, which is being shot in Preston, ID: More info: See the Ellen Dubin website at

CAITLIN E.J. MEYER CAST IN HALE CENTRE THEATRE'S CHRISTMAS CAROL - Despite her talent, she won't be playing Tiny Tim. In fact, she gets a larger role. Caitlin E.J. Meyer, one of Utah's most sought-after child stars, was cast in Hale Centre Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol, as The Ghost of Christmas Past. She will perform in the Monday Wednesday and Friday cast, beginning December 5th. Meyer was also just filmed a commercial with her brother, for Chip Haskell, its a promo about 'The Sun Guy" -- similar to those PSA's about the Rat and the smoking -- she filmed it with her brother Dhylan and it should be airing soon. Meyer is known for her supporting role in "Little Secrets" (directed by Blair Treu, co-starring Vivica A. Fox and Evan Rachel Wood) her lead role in "A Pioneer Miracle" (directed by T.C. Christensen), among other films. "A Christmas Carol" is adapted from the controversial story by late British author Charles Dickens.

POTTER'S FILM TO COME TO UTAH - Mark Potter, director of the low-budget production "Suddenly Unexpected," plans to screen SU in Utah theaters in January 2004. "Suddenly Unexpected" was made in Houston, Texas with a predominantly local, non-LDS cast.

COLUMN ABOUT ROGERS'S BOMM AND JONES' WATS - The following column about LDS Cinema and specifically "The Work and the Glory," "The Book of Mormon Movie" and the entire concept of sequels appeared in the Utah County Daily Herald: See:

ARTICLE ABOUT LATTER-DAY SAINT "LORD OF THE RINGS" COMPOSER (FOR THE VIDEO GAME) - Brother Chance Thomas has done extensive work for computer/video games, but has done some composing for film as well, most notably a song for the Feature Films For Families direct-to-video movie "Rigoletto." See,1249,515037929,00.html

DESERET NEWS' CHRIS HICKS ON "THE R.M." DVD RELEASE - See:,1249,515037335,00.html



LDS PRODUCERS ABOUT TO RELEASE "CAT IN THE HAT" MOVIE STARRING MIKE MEYERS - See In addition to its two LDS producers, the big budget Hollywood flick also stars Latter-day Saint child actress Danielle Chuchran as Thing One.

PORTER ROCKWELL FEATURE IN PRE-PRODUCTION - Porter Rockwell was Joseph Smith's famously bearded body guard. Rockwell has been depicted in low-budget feature films before. This new movie is to be produced by NuWorlds, the makers of "Day of Defense," which is now in theaters. Casting for "Rockwell" will begin in 2004. See

LDS FILMMAKER HOPES TO CHANGE HISTORY, BUT NOT BY BUILDING A TIME MACHINE AND GOING BACK IN TIME TO KILL HITLER BEFORE HIS RISE TO POWER, WHICH IS WHAT MANY PEOPLE THINK ABOUT WHEN CONTEMPLATING CHANGING HISTORY - Robert Starling is working on a fascinating documentary miniseries that chronicles evidence of numerous migrations from the Old World to the Americas. See

WHICH FILM WERE YOU REVIEWING AGAIN? - At the end of his review of "Day of Defense," Ogden Standard-Examiner reviewer Steve Salles took time out to heap praise on "The Best Two Years." [QUOTE] ...Faithful in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have got to be asking: Is someone, somewhere, going to get one of these movies right? I was beginning to wonder until I saw "The Best Two Years," a film due in theaters in late February 2004. This well-made movie does get it right and will set the bar high for future projects in the LDS genre. So, unless something surprising comes along in the next few months, you'll just have to grin and bear it until mid-winter. [END QUOTE]

SO WHAT IS THE SCORE? - Just in case you lost count, here's the round-up of local newspaper reviewers' scores for LDS Cinema.

Title (Year)                  SLT DN  OSE ES SLW Avg.
God's Army (2000)             2.5 3   2.5 B+     71
Brigham City  (2001)          3   2.5 2.5 B      69
Other Side of Heaven (2001)   2.5 2.5 2.5 C+     62
The Singles Ward (2002)       1   2   2.5 C- 2   46
Out of Step (2002)            3   2.5 2   B  2.5 66
Jack Weyland's Charly (2002)  2   2   2.5 B- 2   56
Handcart (2002)               2.5 2.5 2   C- 2   54
The R.M. (2003)               2   2   2.5 B- 2   56
Legend of Johnny Lingo (2003) 2.5 2   2   C  2.5 55
The Work and the Story (2003) 2   2   1.5 D- 2.5 44
Book of Mormon Vol. 1 (2003)  1.5 2   2   C- 1.5 44
Day of Defense (2003)         1   1   1   F      19

SLT: Salt Lake Tribune
DN: Deseret News
OSE: Ogden Standard-Examiner
ES: Eric D. Snider, reviewing for the Daily Herald (Utah County) until Aug. 2003.
SLW: Salt Lake City Weekly

* * *

SISTER GLADYS KNIGHT DVD RELEASED - Sister Gladys Knight, best known as one of the world's most revered and respected Motown generation singers, made her feature film acting debut in "Hollywood Homicide," which was released this week on DVD and video.

Knight has a supporting role as the mother of a witness to a murder. Her character is a largely retired backup singer for a famous Motown singer. The movie's central detectives, Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett, visit Gladys Knight's character in her home when they are trying to locate her son, the witness to the crime they are investigating.

Director Ron Sheldon mentions Gladys Knight in his director's commentary on the DVD:


And now Gladys is going to make a huge reveal for us all.

This is shot in the real house... It was about eight by twelve, the rooms, I could recall...

Gladys Knight flew in from Vegas to audition for the movie, and I said, "Gladys, stop. You've got the part. I should be auditioning for you."

She just signed a five-year deal with the Flamingo in Vegas, so her career is going strong, and she said she was the luckiest person in show business to have such a long singing career. But she earned it, that's for sure. And this was her first movie. She'd done a little television a long time ago, but this was her first movie.

And because our movie's about two generations of cop, and two generations of music are touched upon -- Motown and the Hip Hop world -- Casey Caldin, there's a Joe Gavilan [the two lead characters, played by Josh Hartnet and Harrison Ford, respectively], all of that -- it was a delight to have something like Gladys, who is such a... a, uhm, you know, high priestess in her world.


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WE WERE RIGHT: LDS-THEMED FEATURE FILMS DOUBLING EVERY YEAR, 8 IN 2003 - Way back in our November 15, 2002 Box Office Report we observed that the number of LDS-themed feature films ("LDS Cinema" movies) has been doubling every year since the "genre" began: 1 in 2000 (God's Army); 2 in 2001 (Brigham City; The Other Side of Heaven); 4 in 2002 (The Singles Ward; Out of Step; Jack Weyland's Charly; Handcart). We predicted that the trend would continue and that in 2003 at least 8 LDS Cinema movies would be released. Our prediction was right on. This year has already seen the theatrical release of: (1) The R.M., (2) The Work and the Story, (3) The Book of Mormon Movie, Vol. 1: The Journey, and (4) Day of Defense. Furthermore, (5) "Pride and Prejudice" has been filmed and is scheduled for a theatrical release this Holiday Season, when it will be distributed by Excel Entertainment. "The Best Two Years" (6) has already already been shown in a few "sneak peak" screenings open to the public in commercial theaters, although its full-fledged theatrical release (through HaleStorm Entertainment) has been postponed until February 2004. "Saints and Soldiers" (7) has been shown in multiple film festivals across the nation, although its general release will not come until early 2004. Finally, (8) "The Legend of Johnny Lingo" was distributed nationally to theaters by MGM and can be counted as at least a half (made by LDS filmmakers, inspired by a favorite LDS short film, although its characters are not actually LDS) and "Suddenly Unexpected" can count as at least a half (LDS-themed feature-length film made by LDS filmmakers, although it has only played for two weeks in 1 Houston movie theater and one week in 1 theater in Iowa). That's 8, folks.

The total number of movies released in U.S. commercial theaters in will be about 480. 8 movies is 1.7% of that total. Latter-day Saints make up about 1.8% of the U.S. population. [The population of the United States is 288 million people. The number of Latter-day Saints in the U.S. is 5.3 million, according to official Church estimates, year end 2001. Not all attend, but the number of people who identify themselves as LDS or say their religious preference is LDS is nearly this number, according to comparisons of Church records from the Glenmary county-by-county sets (1999/2000) to the B. Kosmin NSRI/ARIS surveys out of City University of New York).

So, essentially, we've already achieved parity.

But parity is for sissies. Jews, Catholic priests, homicide detectives, rap stars, and brainy female scientists who look like fashion models have never settled for parity at the movies. Nor should Latter-day Saints. If the doubling trend continues, there will be 16 LDS-themed feature films released in 2004, which would could be equated to over-representation. But even over-representation in the number of movies released won't make up for under-representation of our people among characters in studio-released movies. (And where are the LDS-themed TV shows, or LDS characters in Prime Time??)

If the number of LDS-themed feature films really doubled every year, and the number of movies released remained constant, ALL movies released in the U.S. would be LDS-themed movies by the year 2012.

But, as much as we would like this to happen, we know that it won't. In fact, there will probably not even be 16 LDS-themed movies released next year, which means the trend will have slowed or leveled off. Where would 16 possibly come from? No where near that number are scheduled for 2004 release.

HaleStorm Entertainment's "The Home Teachers" is a sure thing for a January 2004 release. It's already essentially complete and HaleStorm has a reliable track record. Christian Vuissa/Robert Farrell Smith/Heather Beers movie "Eat, Drink and Get Married" will certainly be released. It is now in post-production. That's just two. "Saints and Soldiers" and "The Best Two Years" will receive wider-than-before theatrical releases in early 2004, but they're done and we already counted them as 2003 releases. "American Grace" or "Anxiously Engaged" are two movies that year ago we suggested might be released in 2003, but weren't. "American Grace" has long since been essentially complete, but we have no reason to believe that it will be released to theaters in 2004. And "Anxiously Engaged" was never made, and we have no reason to believe that it will be. HaleStorm is planning to wait until early 2005 to release "Church Ball." A late 2004/early 2005 release has been announced for the recently announced $7.4 million "The Work and the Glory" adaptation. 2005 seems more likely. Richard Dutcher expects to film "God's Army 2" soon, so a 2004 release date seems entirely possible (and advisable lest the lead actors returning from the first film age too noticeably). Other than that, previously announced projects include Dutcher's "The Prophet", the T.C. Christensen/Elizabeth Hansen big screen "Saturday's Warrior," and the Scott Swofford/Peter Johnson Book of Mormon adaptation "Voice from the Dust." None of these nor other previously announced pictures are scheduled for actual filming.

A lot can change in the coming months. The box office success or failure of movies currently in theaters and others soon to be released will likely have important repercussions with regards to funding and access to theaters. Eight new movies in 2004 seems possible, although I'm not sure where they'll all come from, but 16 simply won't happen.