Natl Film Title Weekend Gross % B.O. Theatrs Rank LDS/Mormon Filmmaker/Star Total Gross Change $/Thtr Days --- --------------------------- ----------- ------ ------- ---- 12 Napoleon Dynamite 1,391,097 -23% 855 115 Jared Hess (writer/director) 37,614,092 $1,627 Jerusha Hess (writer/costume designer) Jon Heder (1st billed star) Aaron Ruell (3rd billed star) Jeremy Coon (producer/editor) Sean Covel (producer) Chris Wyatt (producer) Munn Powell (cinematographer) Cory Lorenzen (production designer) Curt Jensen (art director) Tim Skousen, Brian Petersen (assistant directors) 17 Collateral 703,378 -52% 802 59 Bryan H. Carroll* 99,341,934 $877 (assoc. producer 2nd unit director) 30 The Notebook 161,092 -30% 245 101 Ryan Gosling 80,313,619 $658 (1st billed star) 54 Bugs! 46,863 -9% 26 570 stars Papilio, 13,076,564 $1,802 a Great Mormon butterfly 79 Mean Creek 12,869 -66% 25 45 LDS lead character 546,274 $515 80 Saints and Soldiers 12,407 -49% 16 59 Ryan Little 771,557 $775 (director/producer/cinematographer) Adam Abel (producer) Brian Brough (assoc. producer/produc. manager) Wynn Hougaard (editor) J Bateman (composer) Matt Whitaker (screenwriter) Jennifer Buster (casting) Actors: Corbin Allred, Larry Bagby III, Kirby Heyborne, Lincoln Hoppe, Curt Dousett, Ben Gourley, Ethan Vincent, etc. 82 Riding Giants (documentary) 10,213 -57% 20 87 Jeff Clark 2,201,357 $511 (featured LDS surfer) 88 The Best Two Years 6,155 -67% 11 227 Scott S. Anderson 1,150,968 $560 (writer/producer/director) Michael Flynn (producer) Fred C. Danneman (executive producer) Gordon Lonsdale (cinematographer) Wynn Hougaard (editor) Michael McLean (songwriter, music supervisor) Dave Sapp (line producer/1st A.D./unit production manager) Darin Anderson (production manager) Michael L. McDonough (sound editor) Rebecca Nibley (costume designer) Actors: K.C. Clyde, Kirby Heyborne, David Nibley, Cameron Hopkin, Scott Christopher, Michael Flynn 89 Benji: Off the Leash! 5,721 -83% 29 45 Actors: Nick Whitaker, 3,749,526 $197 Chris Kendrick, Duane Stephens, Neal Barth, Christy Summerhays, Lincoln Hoppe, Scott Wilkinson 92 Suspect Zero 4,321 -85% 13 38 Aaron Eckhart 8,680,502 $332 (1st billed star) 109 China: The Panda Adventure 721 -0% 3 1165 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 3,863,922 $240
It was overwhelming. The audience could not believe Mormons would or could make such a high-quality and funny film. They would not stop asking questions of executive producer, Farrell M. Smith, the only Mormon in attendance; and they devoured, at full price, every available copy of the novel on which the film was based and kept asking questions about the film late into the night.
They laughed out loud and enjoyed every joke (Mormon, Baptist or general) and thought the story was universal in its appeal and strength and could not hold back their cheers when Tartan finally kisses Charity at the end! "Baptists at Our Barbecue" proved to be a truly feel-good family film that crosses boundaries just like "My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding" did a couple of years ago. It is the first Mormon film to take on another religion and be embraced in the process!
The film opens October 8 at select theaters in Utah.
Thank you, in advance, for your interest in and any coverage of this unique new Mormon film.
- Matt Smith, producer "Baptists at Our Barbecue"
"Baptists at Our Barbecue," a film based on the best-selling novel by Robert F. Smith and directed by Christian Vuissa won the Best of Festival award at the 2004 Hope and Dreams Film Festival in New Jersey.
"We are pleased to award 'Baptists at Our Barbecue' the Best Film of the 2004 Hope and Dreams Film Festival,' said Christine L. Rusin, Curator for the festival in Hope, New Jersey. "The audience just loved 'Baptists at Our Barbecue . . . not only is it entertaining but it conveys an important message of the good that can come from people working together regardless of their differences."
The Best of the Festival Award is the Hope and Dreams Film Festival's most prestigious accolade.
"Baptists at Our Barbecue" also entered the 2004 Fiery Film Festival in New Mexico where it swept as Best Comedy and Best of Festival.
"This is the best Indie comedy of the year," said Ced Rael, Fiery Festival's Director. "It was a clean sweep; definitely the most enjoyable film at the festival. In fact, if our festival had an Audience Choice award, 'Baptists' would have won that too."
"We are extremely excited about the success of 'Baptists at Our Barbecue,' said Director Chrstian Vuissa. "Unlike other recent LDS movies, this movie doesn't hide its Mormon characters under a bushel but tries to explore the peculiarities of Mormon culture. And so the fact that it is still popular with "Non-Mormon" audiences is very rewarding."
"Baptists at Our Barbecue" was produced by Blue Crow Productions and Mirror Films and is being distributed by Halestorm Entertainment. The film is being released in theaters October 8th 2004.
Date: 21 July 2004
Summary: The Spinal Tap of Mormon Boy Bands
This film is hilarious. There were many moments which paralleled Spiral Tap, which is in a large part its inspiration. The performances are great, with the actors doing their own singing and song writing. Overall a very talented group of people put together a hugely entertaining film with many laugh out loud moments. Done in the Spinal Tap style of a mockumentary, it even parodies this classic in fresh and funny ways. Who new the inner workings of trying to be a successful Christian Boy Band could be so funny? I'm glad somebody thought of it. It should get theatrical play at some point. In the mean time it is definitely [worth] checking out in festivals, where it seems to be getting good exposure.
This is just one of the many positive reviews we have been hearing and reading for "Sons of Provo." Look for "Sons of Provo" to hit Utah theaters February 4, 2004.
Here is the newspaper's write-up of "Burying the Past," made by University of Utah film instuctor Brian Patrick:
"Burying the Past" was the most controversial film in the festival and was made by a faculty member of the University of Utah. The film is a documentary removed from the "Spudfest" film festival in Driggs, Idaho because of threats of protest from members of the LDS (Mormon) church in eastern Idaho. "Burying the Past" was a hot potato coming into the Idaho Film Festival.
The most interesting aspect of "Burying the Past" was the director Brian Patrick telling the audience that he had absolutely no agenda in creating the film other than establishing an awareness of the documentary's subject - the Mountain Meadows massacre of 1857. But Patrick's film betrays his own claims. "Burying the Past" is skewed against Mormons as strongly as possible. Of course, it's his right to make an anti-Mormon film if he wants to, but disguising the film as merely a historical inquiry seriously undermines the strength of his investigation.
I'm not an expert on the Mountain Meadows massacre, but I know enough to know that Patrick was leaving out important information about the event and prominently showcases "expert" historians who interpret information in extreme ways.
The Mountain Meadows massacre began with a wagon train of 140 people from Arkansas who, while traveling through southern Utah were allegedly attacked and killed by a group of Indians and radical Mormons. The documentary re-lives the event and then provides interviews with descendents of some of the few survivors. Patrick's treatment of the event is unfortunate, because this is certainly an important historical event that deserves to be remembered with full-fledged respect.
Here is the article's write-up of Latter-day actor/director Rick Schroder's film "Black Cloud":
"Black Cloud" (Rick Schroder USA, 2004) represents both the name of the title character as well as an emotional atmosphere that permeates most of the film. Black Cloud (Eddie Spears) is an American Indian on an Arizona reservation who's become a spectacular boxer under the tutelage of Bud (Russell Means). When he's given a chance to go to a tournament that will lead towards boxing finalists for the U.S. in the Olympics, he declines because of his hatred towards America and the white man.
Eventually Black Cloud softens when he discovers a valiant white man in his own heritage. He then begins to turn his life around. The climax is odd though, because it leads to a sudden shift in character without allowing us to really understand what Black Cloud is feeling. In fact, the whole film has a fairly rough script, including a lot of choppy dialogue that could have used polishing. Perhaps the biggest problem is that, even after Black Cloud's transformation, viewers never come to really care about him.
In a Q & A session after the screening, actor Russell Means told the audience that lead actor Eddie Spears spent two months training for his boxing scenes with the legendary Jimmy Gambini, who also trained actors for "Rocky". The training shows. The boxing scenes amount to the most finely filmed portions of the film, creating an intensity that's on par with the best boxing movies. On the other hand, Spears should have spent more time training for traditional acting. His overall performance just wasn't strong enough to carry the film, which ended up creating a lot of jilted scenes.
Russell Means felt there was a deeper purpose in the film, however. While expressing his vision of American Indian rights he explained, "The reason I did this movie is because when I read the script it portrayed us [American Indians] as human beings." Means went on to explain that while most Hollywood movies use "terrible stereotypes" in their depiction of American Indians, "Black Cloud" was "very accurate".
LDS-THEMED FILMS SONS OF PROVO, BURYING THE PAST STIR UP FANS, CONTROVERSY AT IDAHO FILM FEST - Two LDS-themed films were shown at the Idaho International Film Festival (IIFF): "Sons of Provo" (a comedy) and "Burying the Past" (described by a non-LDS Idaho newspaper reviewer as an anti-Mormon diatribe masquerading as a documentary). For the full IIFF schedule, see this week's insert or visit www.idahofilmfestival.com. Full article: http://www.boiseweekly.com/more.php?id=4187_0_1_0_M
"Burying the Past," filmmaker Brian Patrick's documentary about the infamous Mountain Meadows Massacre in Utah, recently won the award for Best of State Award: Utah 2004, but also carries the distinction of having been removed from Spudfest out of fear (according to Patrick) of protest by local LDS wards. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the documentary Sons of Provo (which premiered at Spudfest without incident), provides a straightforward cinema-verite look at the Mormon boy band Everclean, and will be accompanied by a member of the band.
The festival is a heady, highly balanced mixture of the foreign and the familiar, made all the more intriguing by Fletcher's practiced, often ironic scheduling style. A well-organized film fan can catch Burying the Past, Sons of Provo and the zombie gut-buffet Dead and Breakfast in a straight shot without ever having to walk more than two blocks between venues.
You didn't hear it here, but did you know that Kirby Heyborne was seriously considered for the lead role in "Baptists at Our Barbecue", but the role eventually went to Dan Merkley... I think Heyborne was simply too young and/or too over-exposed.
Anyway, both of these movies have already won audience choice top awards at prestigious film festivals: "Sons of Provo" won at the Spudfest Film Festival in Briggs, Idaho and at the Temecula Film Festival in Southern California. "Baptists at Our Barbecue" won the audience choice top award at the New Jersey Hope and Dreams Film Festival.
The advance buzz is very good for both of these movies.
There are people who might say that the Southern California and Idaho film festivals are "softer" targets because they occurred in areas with large populations of Latter-day Saints, while the New Jersey film festival audience was made up entirely of non-Latter-day Saints... Perhaps... But Latter-day Saints are far from a majority in southern California, and Temecula is not an LDS-run festival. Also, I don't think you can conclude think that Latter-day Saints were simply voting for "Sons of Provo" en masse in Temecula, because "Sons of Provo" ALSO won the Jury Award for best film at the Sacramento Film and Music Festival and Best Film, from a jury of non-LDS film professionals.
"Baptists at Our Barbecue" started its festival season later than "Sons of Provo". The two films have not yet competed in head-to-head competition, but I hope they do some day. It would be interesting to see the result, but perhaps the real contest will be at the box office.
We believe that all Latter-day Saints should go see both films once, and then go 3 more times to whichever one they like the best. This will be the best way to take a "straw poll" for gauging which new "LDS Cinema" comedy is most loved.
Of course, these films will also be competing in theaters with "Pillar of Light: The Work and the Glory", but that's a serious period romance with a much bigger budget, and not a contemporary comedy. So it's hard to compare the two. Given its subject matter, "The Work and the Glory" will have a bigger challenge pleasing film critics. But it has a bigger built-in audience. "Baptists" author Robert Farrell Smith is an excellent writing with a following among Church members who are fans of his many comedic novels. But "The Work and the Glory" series (by now-G.A. Gerald R. Lund) has sold many times more copies and is much better known.
"Baptists" director Christian Vuissa has established an impressive track record with his past films, while "Sons of Provo" helmer Will Swenson is pretty much coming out of nowhere as a helmer. He has previously only been known as an actor. While Vuissa has long been foretold as one of the Four Horsemen of the LDS Cinema Un-Apocalypse who will push the genre to a whole new level of artistic quality and entertainment values, Swenson is something of a surprise.
Bottom line: Look for both "Sons of Provo" and "Baptists at Our Barbecue" to be crowd pleasers, with "Sons" grabbing showing stronger early ticket sales, but "Baptists" being noted by professional critics for its something "extra" in terms of artistry and performances. Although both are comedies, "Baptists" is a more serious comedy, and its themes are presciently topical - somehow perfectly timed with and tied to current events: both domestically with regards to the Presidential race and internationally with regards to conflicts in the Middle East. The ways that Mormon vs. Baptist conflict in "Baptists at Our Barbecue" evokes discussions of Democrats vs. Republicans and Muslims vs. Westerners is subtle, unconscious, unplanned, but I would be surprised if critics didn't pick up on it and commend the film for the way it works on so many levels.
According to IMDb.com, Latter-day Saint filmmaker Chet Thomas is the producer of an upcoming thriller to be directed by David R. Ellis (director of "Cellular" and "Final Destination 2"). On board as executive producers are Bros. Kelly Crabb and Jerry Molen. Bro. Molen received an Academy Award for producing "Schindler's List," and he is well known to LDS film fans as the producer of "The Other Side of Heaven" and "The Legend of Johnny Lingo." Bro. Thomas won the top award at the 2nd LDS Film Festival for his short film "Simplicity." Bro. Thomas was Bro. Molen's assistant when Molen produced "Minority Report."
The name of their upcoming film is "Shakers."
As there are only about 7 Shakers left in the world, and all of them are very old women, I sincerely doubt that this crime thriller is a contemporary story about the members of the Shaker religious denomination. (A major reason why there are almost no Shakers left in the world is their doctrine prohibiting all sexual activity, even with one's spouse.)
IMDb.com listing for "Shakers" is here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0425446
NAPOLEON DYNAMITE: HIGHEST-GROSSING DRAMATIC COMPETITION FILM IN HISTORY OF SUNDANCE - http://www.sltrib.com/healthscience/ci_2421667
ARIZONA REPUBLIC REVIEW: "BLACK CLOUD IS QUITE AN ACHIEVEMENT" FOR LDS DIRECTOR RICK SCHRODER - http://www.azcentral.com/ent/movies/articles/1001blackcloud01.html
BOXOFFICE MAGAZINE: 3.5 OUT OF 5 STARS FOR BRO. SCHRODER'S DIRECTORIAL DEBUT 'BLACK CLOUD' - http://www.boxoffice.com/scripts/fiw.dll?GetReview?&where=ID&terms=7981
BLACK CLOUD ACTOR SPEARS PULLS NO PUNCHES - Article focusing on the star of "Black Cloud." Non-LDS Native American actor Eddie Spears' first big acting job was for Latter-day Saint film director Kieth Merrill... His latest role is starring in Latter-day Saint director Rick Schroder's new movie "Black Cloud." See: http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/ent_movies/40939.php
Is it a sumptuous period romance set against the backdrop of the Restoration? Is it the triumphant silver screen star turn of LDS child soap Brighton Hertford, in the role of "Melissa Steed"? Is it Elder Gerald R. Lund's bid to top Elder John H. Groberg as LDS Cinema's most fabulous General Authority movie author? Is it a tale of greed, hate, envy, faith, hope, charity and 12 other qualities necessary in a campaign manager? Is this the sequel to Nathan Smith Jones' hilarious mockumentary "The Work and the Story"?? Is this Hollywood movie star Sam Henning's 5th LDS movie, since starring in Marc Marriott's "Snow Child", Scott Murphy's "Behind the Waterfall", T.C. Christensen's "Seasons of the Heart", and Lyman Dayton's "On Our Own." Is it a movie which features the actor who played Jesus in this year's "Judas" ABC TV movie, now playing a different historical religious figure: Joseph Smith? Or is it all these things and MORE!!!
Actually... "The Work and the Glory" is ALL these things, except one. But I'm not telling which one. If you saw the documentary, you know.
THE SOUND OF "THE WORK AND THE GLORY" MOVIE - KSL TV report. See http://tv.ksl.com/index.php?nid=5&sid=123180
One note: Although he is a co-webmaster of LDSfilm.com, the opinions expressed by Baggaley in this article should not be taken as that of LDSfilm.com's entire editorial staff. Specifically, Baggaley endorses making films that do not have LDS characters. Such a position might be considered heretical by other members of LDSfilm.com's staff, who feel that Latter-day Saints are far under-represented as characters in film and have expressed the desire that ALL films have at least one LDS character, just as there is often a token GLBT or minority character in many Hollywood-released films. [webmaster: Tom is saying this because he was worred that I would burn him at the stake. Besides, I only think that Hollywood movies should have LDS characters if they take place any time after April 6, 1830.]
His wife's religious and ethnic background even inspired a feature film that he wrote and starred in: "My 5 Wives." Although set in Utah, the film respectfully distinguishes the polygamists in the movie from mainstream Latter-day Saints. Most critics were not kind to "My 5 Wives," which was released in 2000. It was not reviewed by many publications. RottenTomatoes.com lists only 5 reviews, 4 of them negative, giving a positive review rating of just 20%. Reel Film Reviews gave it 1 out 4 stars. CultureDose.net gave it one-half star out of a possible 5. Apollo Guide gave it 56 out of 100 points. eFilmCritic.com gave it 4 out of 5 stars. iF Magazine gave it a "D" letter grade.
Fellow comedian Andrew Dice Clay, whose level of vulgarity is known to exceed even Dangerfield's, co-starred in "My 5 Wives." Clay played Mormon characters in the movie "One Night at McCool's" (2001). Dangerfield played the grandfather of lead character Adam Sandler in the comedy "Little Nicky" (2000), which was production designed by Bro. Perry Andelin Blake. Dangerfield played the female lead character's father in "Natural Born Killers" (1994), which was written by Latter-day Saint screenwriter Dave Veloz.
Articles noting Dangerfield's passing appeared in newspapers around the world. Here is an example: http://abcnews.go.com/wire/Entertainment/ap20041006_332.html
You'll get flak on calling "Jack Weyland's Charly" one of the truly great films in the history of LDS Cinema -- BUT YOU ARE RIGHT!
I read Weyland's book the Sunday before the film opened. While I enjoyed the book I thought that it was underwritten. The script for the film greatly improved upon the book. The direction, the performances (especially Heather Beers but all were very good), the score and cinematography all came together.
I would rank "Charly" as one of the five best LDS films thus far. Dutcher's BRIGHAM CITY remains my very favorite with his GOD'S ARMY a close second. I would also include SAINTS AND SOLDIERS, THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN and TWO BEST YEARS as being among the best -- that makes six.
The previews for THE WORK AND THE GLORY are very good -- good enough that I have already order tickets for its opening day. Now if the film lives up to the previews. . .
And then there's the opening of BAPTISTS AT OUR BARBECUE next Friday, giving us chance to see Heather Beers once again. I'm crossing my fingers on this one and will be there opening day to see for myself.
All this and the current LDS Church release on DVD of THE RESTORATION (and free with the Ensign) makes for some exciting film experiences!
- Hunter Hale
Bro. Little's total is $866,539 for his two films. Above him on the chart is Scott S. Anderson, with $ 1,150,968 for "The Best Two Years." Although Anderson's film is still in a few theaters, it is nearing its theatrical run, and it will be released on video/DVD next week (Oct. 12). It is available for pre-order purchase at LDS Video Store (http://www.ldsvideo.com) and will be available at LDS bookstores nationwide, including Desert Book, LDSLiving.com, etc., as well as in other bookstores and video stores in Utah. "Saints and Soldiers" has still not gone to many of the states and locations planned for it, and it could still pass "The Best Two Years" in box office take. If it does so, it will also have surpassed "Brigham City" (Richard Dutcher) and "The R.M." (Kurt Hale) on the box office chart, but doing so will not push Ryan Little higher on the Directors chart because Dutcher and Hale have helmed other films.
Latter-day Saint film director Rick Schroder's "Black Cloud" debuted in Arizona last weekend, but we do not have box office data for it yet. New to this list in the coming days: Austrian Latter-day Saint filmmaker Christian Vuissa, whose "Baptists at Our Barbecue" premiers throughout Utah today.
Top Latter-day Saint Film Directors
(who are currently directing)
Ranked by Gross Box Office $
1. Kieth Merrill 2. Don Bluth 3. Richard Rich 4. Neil LaBute 5. Bruce Neibaur 6. Perry Andelin Blake 7. Jared Hess 8. Mitch Davis 9. Richard Dutcher 10. Kurt Hale 11. Steven Ramirez 12. Gary Rogers 13. Scott S. Anderson 14. Ryan Little 15. Adam Thomas Anderegg 16. Blair Treu 17. Andrew Black 18. Sterling Van Wagenen 19. Kels Goodman 20. Nathan Smith Jones * Based on total career North American box office gross
The movie is an adaptation of televangelist Bishop T.D. Jakes' best-selling self-help novel. Jakes co-stars, but did not direct. The novel and film tell the story of a woman ("Michelle") trying to overcome a cycle of poverty, prostitution, drug addition and abuse. Bishop Jakes, playing himself, visits Michelle on death row.
The Passion of the Christ Mel Gibson 2004 $370,232,710 Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie Nawrocki/Vischer 2002 $25,571,351 The Omega Code Robert Marcarelli 1999 $12,614,346 Megiddo: Omega Code 2 D'Angona/Trenchard-Smith 2001 $6,047,691 Luther Eric Till 2003 $5,761,606 The Other Side of Heaven Mitch Davis 2001 $4,720,371 Left Behind Victor Sarin 2000 $4,224,065 China Cry: A True Story James F. Collier 1990 $4,212,828 The Gospel of John Philip Saville 2003 $4,068,087 The Judas Project James H. Barden 1993 $2,850,135 God's Army Richard Dutcher 2000 $2,628,829 Woman, Thou Art Loosed Michael Schultz 2004 $2,325,474 Carman: The Champion Lee Stanley 2001 $1,765,751 Book of Mormon Movie, Vol. 1 Gary Rogers 2003 $1,672,730 Joshua Jon Purdy 2002 $1,374,143 Time Changer Rich Christiano 2002 $1,283,925 The Singles Ward Kurt Hale 2002 $1,250,798 The Best Two Years Scott S. Anderson 2004 $1,150,968 The R.M. Kurt Hale 2003 $1,111,615 Extreme Days Eric Hannah 2001 $1,047,553 Brigham City Richard Dutcher 2001 $905,073 Jack Weyland's Charly Adam Thomas Anderegg 2002 $814,666 Saints and Soldiers Ryan Little 2004 $771,557 Manna from Heaven Gabrielle Burton 2002 $454,623 Pride and Prejudice Andrew Black 2003 $372,752 Road to Redemption Robert Vernon 2001 $236,823 Revelation Andre Van Heerden 1999 $206,755 The Home Teachers Kurt Hale 2004 $196,123 Mercy Streets Jon Gunn 2000 $173,599 Hangman's Curse Rafal Zielinski 2003 $136,812 Handcart Kels Goodman 2002 $98,666 The Ride Michael O. Sajbel 1997 $86,307 Out of Step Ryan Little 2002 $80,000 The Work and the Story Nathan Smith Jones 2003 $14,474
The primary page for this subject is here: http://www.ldsfilm.com/lds_chars.html.
This page has brief desciptions of over 75 theatrically released feature films with major characters who are Latter-day Saints or based on real-life Latter-day Saints. The page also lists over 50 feature films with minor Latter-day Saint characters and/or references. 16 made-for-television (or cable) movies and miniseries in which one or more characters are Latter-day Saints are also listed. There is another list for documentaries, and an over-flow page with lists such as direct-to-video productions, musicals, and selected printed biographies of real-life Latter-day Saints portrayed in feature films.
This page now features links to dedicated pages about individual movies. Each dedicated page features LDS-related excerpts from sections of actual screenplays and/or movie transcripts, stills from the film and other content.
NEW dedicated "LDS Characters and References in Feature Films" pages have been posted for:
- The Limey (1999, PG-13)
- America's Sweethearts (2001, PG-13)
- Two Weeks Notice" (2002, PG-13)
- Training Day (2001, R)
- Chicago (2002, R)
Other pages have previously been posted online in this series for the films: The Big Clock; Catch Me If You Can; Chaper by the Dozen; Ocean's Eleven (1960); S.W.A.T.; Starship Troopers.
2 NEW OSCAR-WINNING MOVIES W/LDS MAIN CHARACTERS ON BOX OFFICE CHART - We have long listed "Melvin and Howard" on the Feature Films with LDS Main Characters list. But we only recently found the U.S. box office gross for this movie: $4,309,490. This puts "Melvin and Howard" right behind "The Other Side of Heaven" among movies featuring Latter-day Saint main characters. Actually, the name of the Church (both "Latter-day Saints" and "Mormons") are mentioned more times in "Melvin and Howard" than in "The Other Side of Heaven." Most of the main characters in "Melvin and Howard" are Latter-day Saints. The characters are based on real-life Latter-day Saints, and they are explicitly identified as Latter-day Saints in the movie itself. Mary Steenburgen won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for playing "Sister Lynda Dummar." Steenburgen also received the Golden Globe, Boston Society of Film Critics Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, National Society of Film Critics Award and New York Film Critics Circle Award for her role as a Latter-day Saint. Paul Le Mat was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role as Latter-day Saint Melvin Dummar.
ALSO new on this list is ANOTHER Hollywood feature film that most people have heard of, but most Latter-day Saints are completely unaware that one of its main characters is a Latter-day Saint. One of film's main characters is Hannah Green, a Latter-day Saint college student from Provo, Utah who rents a room in the home of the lead character, English professor Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas). Green is played by actress Katie Holmes, who has 5th-billing in the film. Hannah is specifically identified as a Latter-day Saint in the film's screenplay. "Wonder Boys" does not actually explicitly identify its LDS character's religious faith. It does in the screenplay, but the line does not appear in the finished film. Either it was never filmed or (more likely) it was filmed but cut. One of the clues remaining in the film indicating Hannah's background is the Utah licence plates on her car. The plates look out of place when Robert Downey Jr. drives the car in the Pennsylvania city where the story takes place, but the Utah plates actually represent careful attention to detail on the part of the film's prop master or production designer. "Wonder Boys" received an Academy Award for Best Song. It received Academy Award nominations for Best Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay.
The "Wonder Boys" U.S. box office total of $19 million makes it one of the highest-grossing movies ever to feature a Latter-day Saint main character. Of the 7 movies on this list which grossed more than "Wonder Boys," ONLY "Paint Your Wagon" features a Latter-day Saint character who is explicitly identified in the film as a Mormon AND is actually one of the MAIN characters - not just a major character. (The religious background of Oren Monash and Butch Cassidy is never identified by name in "Deep Impact" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", respectively. The "M-word" - Mormon - IS used in "Ocean's Eleven", "Donnie Brasco" and "S.W.A.T.", but the Latter-day Saint characters in these movies are not among the five MAIN characters.)
You may read the "Wonder Boys" screenplay here: http://sfy.iv.ru/sfy.html?script=wonder_boys
You may read the "Melvin and Howard" screenplay here: http://sfy.ru/sfy.html?script=melvin_and_howard
Title U.S. Box Office Gross Year Director ---- --------------- ---- -------- Ocean's Eleven $183,405,771 2001 Steven Soderbergh Rain Man $172,825,435 1988 Barry Levinson Deep Impact $140,464,664 1998 Mimi Leder S.W.A.T. $116,877,597 2003 Clark Johnson Butch Cassidy/Sundance Kid $102,308,900 1969 George Roy Hill Donnie Brasco $41,974,656 1997 Mike Newell Paint Your Wagon $31,678,778 1969 Joshua Logan Wonder Boys $19,389,454 2000 Curtis Hanson Punch-Drunk Love $17,791,031 2002 Paul Thomas Anderson Family Plot $13,200,000 1976 Alfred Hitchcock Bugs! (IMAX) $12,989,516 2003 Abby Aron; Mike Slee Somewhere in Time $9,070,000 1980 Jeannot Szwarc Panther $6,834,000 1995 Mario Van Peebles Six Degrees of Separation $6,410,676 1993 Fred Schepisi One Night at McCool's $6,276,532 2001 Harald Zwart The Other Side of Heaven $4,720,371 2001 Mitch Davis Melvin and Howard $4,309,490 1980 Jonathan Demme The Covered Wagon $3,800,000 1923 James Cruze Messenger of Death $3,074,000 1988 J. Lee Thompson Heavenly Creatures $3,049,000 1995 Peter Jackson Brigham Young: Frontiersman $2,700,000 1940 Henry Hathaway God's Army $2,628,829 2000 Richard Dutcher Riding Giants $2,184,490 2004 Stacy Peralta La Resa dei conti $2,000,000 1966 Sergio Sollima Goodbye Lover $1,923,061 1999 Roland Joffe Book of Mormon Movie $1,672,730 2003 Gary Rogers Northfork $1,420,578 2003 Michael Polish The Singles Ward $1,250,798 2002 Kurt Hale The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper $1,214,767 1981 Roger Spottiswoode The Best Two Years $1,122,706 2004 Scott S. Anderson The R.M. $1,111,615 2003 Kurt Hale Wagonmaster $1,000,000 1950 John Ford Brigham City $905,073 2001 Richard Dutcher Jack Weyland's Charly $814,666 2002 Adam Thomas Anderegg Latter Days $809,475 2004 C. Jay Cox Saints and Soldiers $746,539 2004 Ryan Little Orgazmo $582,024 1997 Trey Parker Mean Creek $515,955 2004 Jacob Aaron Estes The Cremaster Cycle $514,622 2003 Matthew Barney Pride and Prejudice $372,752 2003 Andrew Black The Home Teachers $196,123 2004 Kurt Hale Handcart $98,666 2002 Kels Goodman Out of Step $80,000 2002 Ryan Little The Work and the Story $14,474 2003 Nathan Smith Jones
Plus, don't miss the irony of the fact that two weeks ago young Latter-day Saint actor Nick Whitaker, the star of "Benji: Off the Leash" passed his former director Richard Dutcher on this chart. Whitaker's new movie, in which he receives top billing, has passed the combined total of all three films in which Bro. Dutcher received poster billing: "God's Army", "Brigham City" and "The Work and the Story." Bro. Dutcher gave young Bro. Whitaker his first role in a theatrically released film: "Brigham City," although Bro. Whitaker's part was too small to receive poster billing.
PRO AND CON: LETTERS GALORE: Here are links to many letters to the editor about this election year's hot film-related topic in Utah. Can I just point out that this topic - Michael Moore coming to UVSC - has been THE dominant topic on the Salt Lake Tribune letters to the editor page. It is also appearing frequently in the Deseret News. It is our policy to forward to our mailing list letters to the editor from these two newspapers relating to LDS film, which is why we forward these: Moore is a wide-recognized filmmaker, and he is coming to speak at a college at which the majority of students are LDS. If the majority of the letters we forward seem supportive of Moore, it is because the majority of the published letters are that way. If we actually took time to tally them all up, however, I believe that the majority of letters are not expressing support specifically for Moore so much as they are expressing support for UVSC's decision to invite him.
These letters cover a number of positions and topics, but I found it interesting that a few people are really beating up on Kay Anderson, the man who offered a $25,000 check from his own money to UVSC to have them cancel the Michael Moore appearance. If you disagree with him, explain your position, but why attack Anderson?? He actually DID something, and offered his OWN money, which is more than most people do. Would these people attacking Anderson have been offended had he offered money to UVSC to prevent a Ku Klux Klan rally from taking place there? No. Their indignation is situational; making the critics of Anderson are hypocrites. Talk is cheap. Anderson exercised his freedom of speech by offering real cash. I don't agree with Anderson's suggestion to cancel Michael Moore's visit, but I certainly respect his initiative and his right to peaceably participate in the process rather than force silence or compliance on people, which is what liberals on college campuses usually do.
Read these recent letters to the editor about Michael Moore's visit, all from the Deseret News (Deseret Morning News) and the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah's highest-circulation newspapers. These letters were written by: Deborah Overmoe (Salt Lake City); Tom Huckin (SLC); Tim Ryan (Holladay); Mark D. Lees (Provo); Rhea Gavry (SLC); Ben Crass (Sandy); Joseph Cyr (Sandy); Carl Whiting (Layton); David M. Anderson (SLC); Bonnie Mackay (Murray); Guy Wheelwright (Holladay); James M. Rawson (Orem); Todd Kassner (Taylorsville); Kalyn Denny (SLC); Sam Klein (SLC); Trevor McIntosh (SLC); Allan Buskirk (Draper); Pat Barnum (Lehi); Liz Swanson (Alpine); David B. Adams (SLC); Michael P. Greer (Sandy); Henry Minchey (Washington, Utah); Mike Parr (Sandy); William A. (Bert) Wilson (Provo); Ed Seith (SLC); Jackie Anderson (Price).
ARTICLES: Here are some of the key new articles and staff-written editorials:
SLTRIB EDITORIAL: MOORE CONTROVERSY AT LDS COLLEGE SIMILAR TO EVENTS IN RENO, NV - http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_2421671
SLTRIB: 'FAHRENHEIT UVSC': IT'S HOT - http://www.sltrib.com/utah/ci_2418051
MOORE INVITATION A UVSC POLICY VIOLATION? - http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595096214,00.html
MICHAEL MOORE'S $40,000 NO MORE THAN REGULAR SPEAKING FEE OTHERS GET - http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595094703,00.html
UVSC PRESIDENT SEDERBURG SAYS MOORE DISPUTE COULD AID UVSC - http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595094701,00.html
SLTRIB'S TV COLUMNIST SAYS WATCH MOORE FAHRENHEIT FILM - http://www.sltrib.com/entertainment/ci_2421174
MICHAEL MOORE'S DVD NOT VERY HOT IN OREM; LDS FILMMAKER'S MOORE-DEBUNKING FILM ALSO AVAILABLE - http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595096842,00.html
Here is what Elder Bednar said about movies in a Ricks College Devotional:
...double tongued is partaking of the sacrament on Sunday and publicly proclaiming in a testimony meeting a desire to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost--then routinely watching "R" rated and other inappropriate movies and rationalizing that such movies are ". . . ok because they contain just one bad part, and I can handle it."
To fully understand the context for this, please see the full address: IN THE PATH OF THEIR DUTY, Ricks College Devotional, Elder David A. Bednar, September 1, 1998 (http://www.byui.edu/Presentations/Transcripts/Devotionals/1998_09_01_Bednar.htm).
Even an apostle of the church cannot know what is in the heart of an individual. I'm saddened when any member of the church, particularly an apostle, implies that a person's morality can be judged by their taste in art. Only the art of cinema has this stigma surrounding it because it is the only art form that is subject to a ratings board. When I watch a film that happens to have an R rating, I do not say, "I can handle the 'bad' parts." I watch films that I find moving and worthwhile to see regardless of the rating. I do not waste my time watching films with sex and violence for the sake of sex and violence. But if those elements have a legitimate place and purpose for the telling of the story, so be it.
Unfortunately, a great deal of members in the church are shallow and insipid enough to believe that one's taste is an indicator of their morality. This simply isn't so.
Joseph L. Puente
A few personal observations: Obviously Latter-day Saints are strongly commanded to avoid all pornography. This was the topic of President Gordon B. Hinckley's pointed address at the General Priesthood Session of General Conference a few days ago. It is also obvious that pornography and R-rated movies are not the same thing. Many R-rated movies are indeed pornographic. Many are not. My own observation is that in recent years Church leaders and official publications have moved toward more nuanced, content-based admonitions regarding movie choices. Part of the need for this is the fact that many PG-13 and even PG movies are inappropriate for Latter-day Saints to support, and so proscriptions only of movies with R and NC-17 ("X") ratings are inadequate. Also, the "R" rating is only used in the United States. Other countries have different ratings systems.
I personally support completely those Latter-day Saints who refuse to see ALL R-rated films entirely.
Most people who criticize such a choice and choose to watch R-rated movies have themselves never seen the many non-R movies that they should watch BEFORE seeing "Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid" or "Exorcist: The Beginning": I would advise such critics to break free of the mental blinders which prohibit them from looking back more than 10 years into the past so that they could check out Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, The Wizard of Oz, On the Waterfront, Singin' in the Rain, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Some Like it Hot, All About Eve, The Maltese Falcon, Dr. Strangelove, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Annie Hall, High Noon, To Kill A Mockingbird, Double Indemnity, Doctor Zhivago, North by Northwest, West Side Story, Rear Window, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Amadeus, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Third Man and hundreds of other wonderful non-R movies.
I also support completely those Latter-day Saints who do watch some R-rated movies, but make conscientious decisions about what they choose to watch, regardless of rating, based on what they can find out beforehand about the appropriateness of the content along with other factors.
I am fully aware of the fact that if one holds to a personal total ban on all R-rated movies, such a policy means never watching The Godfather, Schindler's List, Psycho, Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Bonnie and Clyde, Apocalypse Now, Taxi Driver, M*A*S*H (at least in their un-edited form). Such omissions may seem unthinkable to a film student - even a Latter-day Saint film student. But, frankly, most Latter-day Saint molecular biologists, accountants, and professional basketball players couldn't care less.
Anyway... this is NOT a big topic for me. My own decisions on this matter are my own and not anything I wish to urge others to subscribe to. LDSFilm.com has never been a soapbox urging people to watch or not watch R-rated movies. There are MANY, MANY Latter-day Saints - most importantly our duly called Church leaders, but also Latter-day Saint filmmakers, scholars, writers, columnists, etc. - who offer guidance on this topic. But there is nobody else doing the type of research we do with regards to Latter-day Saint filmmakers and Latter-day Saint characters and references in mainstream films. So we choose to write about topics and provide resources that you will not find duplicated in other resources. Enough said.
We completely welcome commentary on this topic, particularly if you have comments that you are willing to share with all of our readers. We will be happy to share comments with or without your name, and with or without your email address, whichever you prefer.
I would like to respond Joseph Puente's letter and use it as a springboard to address some thoughts to all LDS filmmakers.
Mr. Puente seems to have the misguided notion that art and morality are separate from religion and morality. Unfortunately, he's not the only one. I remember confronting this issue while a film student at BYU. I recall a conversation between several LDS actresses discussing just how much flesh they were willing to show if they thought the project was right. There should have been NO discussion because we know what the prophets and apostles have taught regarding modesty. And nowhere in their teachings is there an exception that includes tastefully done nudity for the arts. In addition, after partaking of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam and Eve hid themselves from the Lord's arrival because they were naked. Do you see the subtle connection there? They were no longer innocent and knew the difference between right and wrong and went to cover up.
As for those that excuse the watching of a movie because the R rating is due only to graphic violence: they need to read further along in the book of Genesis and find out why God flooded the earth during the time of Noah. It wasn't because people were dropping the "F-bomb," but, in part, because "the earth was filled with violence." Yes, I know the violence in movies is simulated, but so is most of the sexual activity. That doesn't make viewing it any more acceptable.
Elder Cree-L Kofford of the Seventy said, "What difference does it make why it is rated R? The fact is, a prophet of God has said not to go to R-rated movies. That ought to be enough." (Ensign, July 1998, 16).
There are a million and one rationales that a person can use for excusing himself for participating in any activity that is contrary to the teachings of the Church leaders. There may be even more when it comes to R rated movies. But for someone to be "saddened" by the counsel of a Church authority shows a much deeper problem than one's viewing habits.
Heavenly Father has endowed all of his children with gifts and talents. For some it's singing, for others painting, for some writing, and so on. These gifts haven't been given to use separately from our quest to gain exaltation, but to be used in conjunction with that goal. I believe very strongly that the arts are a vital part of life. The scriptures teach us that angels sing. There was a theatre in Nauvoo. One of the first buildings to go up in the Salt Lake Valley was a bowery for entertainment purposes followed by an actual theatre. The Mormon Tabernacle choir was established early on in the Church's history and has been an important part of our nation's culture. Obviously our Church leaders see the need for these things. So to suggest in any way, shape or form that they can't speak out against that which they believe is spiritually damaging is the epitome of prideful thinking. I'd put my trust in a servant of the Lord giving me instruction on how to make it back to God's presence way, way before the teachings of some liberal arts professor!
Like all good things that come from divine conception, the arts have been perverted from an expression of beauty and truth into something ugly. (And this certainly isn't true in all cases.) Another example would be the internet, which has thousands of practical and wonderful uses. It can be educational. It can aid in missionary efforts. It's an awesome tool for genealogy work. But it's also a powerful weapon when used by Satan. People no longer have to leave their home for the adversary to lure them into activities that are immoral and debasing. It comes to them. Just like the internet, how we use our talents determines their value to society. I feel quite confident in saying that the Spirit has never inspired someone to take a photograph, paint a picture, write a song, etc. that is contrary to that which is virtuous, lovely, or of good report.
And since when has nudity, sex, profane language, or graphic violence ever been a necessary element for good art? There are hundreds and hundreds of outstanding films that have never relied on those things. A truly talented writer or director can imply anything he desires without showing it. In fact, it takes absolutely no imagination to elicit an emotional response from someone by laying everything out on the table. And simply because the various entertainment entities have made a habit out of rewarding that which is overtly crass and immoral with awards doesn't make what they're doing of value.
As members of the LDS Church we have a responsibility to be in the world but not of it. To be different. That's not an easy thing to do, but neither is making it into the Celestial Kingdom.
I can tell you from my personal experience working in L.A. that the majority of those I dealt with have a completely different set of morals than I do. I worked with one head of development that told me he "hated" organized religion. I heard another prominent story editor brag about the fact that she wasn't "at all spiritual." The language that many of them use in everyday conversation is enough to make a sailor blush.
I believe there is a huge audience out there that wants something more than the flood of garbage that Hollywood continues to produce. That's why the highest grossing R-rated film is a movie about the Savior. That's why the vast majority of the top grossing films of all time are G, PG, or PG-13. Look at the statistics of what sells on VHS and DVD: family films do the best. People might rent the trash, but they buy the things that have general appeal.
Disney has proven that you can make a quality, entertaining movie without the pollutants.
Remember the Titans, The Princess Diaries, and The Rookie all did over $100 million at the box office and were void of the trash.
I believe as LDS filmmakers we need to set our sights higher than simply making "Mormon Movies." We have a responsibility and a duty to use our talents to help improve the world around us; to give those who want it an alternative to the soulless trash Hollywood cranks out. Joseph F. Smith taught that during the Millennium life will go on much as it is today and that industry will continue. I believe entertainment will still be a part of that existence, but I can guarantee you it won't be the kind of stuff we see coming from the mainstream entertainment industry. Those who are going to be a part of that world then, have to be a part of it while in this world.
One final, more personal note to Mr. Puente. To refer to members of the Church who accept at face value the teachings of the Church leaders as "shallow and insipid" is quite unfortunate. The spirit of contention behind such comments speaks volumes.
Your comments were interesting, especially the one about willingly watching sex and violence if it pertains to the story. If you and your friends were to sit around watching each other have sex you would be considered perverted. If you were to watch with interest and intrigue someone being brutally beaten, you might be considered deranged, but in cinema it is art? As a film student I have seen many good films get their point across without excessive sex, violence, or offensive language so I know it is possible. While I do realize that the MPAA may not be completely consistent or even accurate in their ratings, if it is good enough for President Hinckley it is good enough for me.
LDSFILM.COM SUBSCRIBER SALLY RESPONDS TO DISCUSSION OF R-RATED MOVIES:
Regarding the recent discussion of R-rated movies, LDSFilm.com mailing list reader (Sally) has written the following, which she shares with our readers:
As a parent of two child actors, I have opinions about this subject. Both have turned down auditions that could have advanced their careers were they to book the film, because of content, i.e. language, sexual innuendo etc. We simply will not do those kind of movies. However, there are movies that they would do, that may be violent, i.e. they worked on Handcart, where there was much suffering depicted. There are movies such as Saint's and Soldiers where there is violence, because that is fact.
We have to think for ourselves. I have a philosophy that if I could not sit beside the Prophet comfortably, and watch a movie with him, we do not participate either by my children acting in them, or watching them.
There are so many wonderful movies to see, and if we support those, then more of them will be made. It seems hypocritical for us to want those kind of movies, but when we attend them, the seats are glaringly empty.
I do not judge what others might view, and I make sure that if the movie is a good one, albeit having a scene where there is something that gives it the R rating, yet that something, is historical, i.e. Schindler's List. We will see the movie. I think for myself, and teach my children tolerance, tempered with good judgement.
"Control wisely and select carefully what you will invite via a mouse click or remote control into your home, your dormitory, or your office. Select reading material, movies, TV shows, and any other form of entertainment that bring good, uplifting thoughts rather than unwholesome desires."
The full talk can be found at: http://speeches.byu.edu/htmlfiles/UchtdorfF03.html