Natl Film Title Weekend Gross % B.O. Theatrs Rank LDS/Mormon Filmmaker/Star Total Gross Change $/Thtr Days --- --------------------------- ----------- ------ ------- ---- 14 The Upside of Anger 994,481 -52% 1,103 45 Keri Russell (actress) 16,741,153 $902 16 Millions 667,848 +0% 313 45 LDS major characters: 3,819,202 $2,134 3 LDS missionaries 38 Constantine 79,531 -40% 107 66 Allen Hall (SFX coordinator) 74,480,921 $743 54 Bugs! 36,816 +19% 18 773 stars Papilio, 15,189,732 $2,045 a Great Mormon butterfly 68 Lemony Snicket's A Series 14,677 -25% 20 129 of Unfortunate Events 118,627,117 $734 Brett Helquist (co-creator/ book illustrator) 69 The Work and the Glory 13,548 -49% 27 152 Russ Holt (writer/director) 3,315,054 $502 Gerald N. Lund (author) Scott Swofford (producer) T.C. Christensen (cinematographer) Gordon Lonsdale (cinematographer) Sam Cardon (composer) Stephen L. Johnson (editor) Larry H. Miller (exec. producer) Jeff T. Miller (line producer) Supporting actors: Brighton Hertford, Sarah Darling, Ryan Wood John R. Uibel (production designer) Cathren Warner (costume designer) Edwin Matsu (makeup artist) Stephanie Scott (makeup artist) Laurie Vukich (assistant hair stylist) Heather Toone (2nd assistant director) LDS main characters 74 Down and Derby 12,063 -73% 24 10 Eric Hendershot 71,578 $503 (writer/director/exec. producer) Steele Hendershot (producer) Dickilyn Johnson (producer) John Stone (exec. producer) T.C. Christensen (cinematographer) Gordon Lonsdale (cinematographer) Actors: Adam Hicks, Carmen Rasmusen, Scott Christopher 91 Galapagos 5,584 -5% 2 2005 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 14,778,838 $2,792 112 Saints and Soldiers 1,729 -77% 5 262 Ryan Little 1,272,660 $346 (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. LDS main character: Deacon 115 The Young Black Stallion 1,564 +47% 2 487 Reed Smoot (cinematographer) 6,730,680 $782 122 Sons of Provo 674 -84% 2 80 Will Swenson 108,872 $337 (writer/director/producer/ lead actor/songwriter) Peter D. Brown (writer/producer/songwriter) John Lyde, Stephen Rose (cinematographers/editors) John Shircliff (prod. designer) Anne Rose (costume designer) KC Blake (sound designer) Tyler Keegan (unit prod. manager/1st A.D.) Scott Hust (2nd A.D.) Robert Swenson (2nd 2nd A.D.) Spencer Barnes, Anna K. Findlay (make-up artists) Actors: Will Swenson, Kirby Heyborne, Danny Tarasevich, Jennifer Erekson, Peter D. Brown, Maureen Eastwood, Michael Birkeland, Alison Akin Clark, Jeremy Elliott, etc. LDS main characters
It's time to outgrow that.
Take "Down and Derby." On the surface, this film seemed to be the ideal kind of film to both reap the benefits of the LDS Cinema movement and also reach a crossover audience. Scouting is certainly important to many members of the church, yet there are many people involved in the Cub Scouts who are not LDS. Let me first say, this film, technically, is not LDS Cinema in much the same way "The Legend of Johnny Lingo" was not LDS Cinema. The characters are not members of the church. Yet the filmmakers certainly counted on the LDS market as an important part of their target audience. How has the film performed? It opened in 58 theaters across the United States - not bad for an independent film and certainly a reflection of its potential for attracting an audience from a large scouting community. However, during its opening weekend, it took in just under $44,000 ($757 per theater). After 1 full week, it had taken in $59,515 (a mere $1,026 per theater). By comparison, "The Work and the Glory" grossed $10,532 per theater in its opening week, "The Best Two Years" took in $6,327 per theater, "Sons of Provo" made $4,809 per theater and even "Handcart" - among the worst performing of LDS Cinema flicks in terms of box office per theater gross - made just under $2,000 per theater after its first seven days. Needless to say, for its second weekend, "Down and Derby" has already dropped out of more than half of its theaters, taking in just $12,063 in 24 theaters over the weekend ($503 per theater). Apparently, there isn't a highly-mobilized audience of scout-loving theater-goers ready to see a film about the pinewood derby, even when it has recognizable stars like Pat Morita in the cast. And, the film - which has been able to avoid the LDS Cinema label - failed to bring in the Latter-day Saints too (at least so far).
Obviously, there are more things at work here than just a simple comparison between the ready-made scouting audience and the ready-made LDS Cinema audience. Early reviews of the film were far from positive. Advertising budgets and plans, release dates and any number of other elements (including the reaction of those who actually go to see the film - is the film any good?) play a role in its performance as well. "Pride and Prejudice" is another example. It was a film many had high expectations for. It seemed to be the ideal film to be able to attract that crossover audience. Instead, the film lost its connection with what ought to have been its niche audience - LDS audiences - and never could replace that with whatever "crossover" an essentially mainstream independent film can gain.
Here are some things to think about: Many independent films would like to do as well financially as the average LDS Cinema film. A "reasonable" budget for the average LDS Cinema film, while small, is actually higher than it is for the average independent feature, because unless an independent film can get picked up by a distributor of independent films like happened with "Napoleon Dynamite" and Fox Searchlight, most independent films don't have a core audience like the LDS market to pull from and so they don't get anywhere near the $1.3 million that the "average" LDS Cinema feature takes in at the box office. Of course, that $1.3 million gets split several different ways - but that's also true of WHATEVER the "average" independent film makes. For every "Napoleon Dynamite," "Garden State," "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" or "Blair Witch Trial" there are many independent films that you just never heard of that have lost their money before they even start.
And here's another thought: Maybe we should embrace the idea of LDS cinema a little more enthusiastically and with fewer reservations. Remember what got us to this point. "God's Army" was successful not only because it was the "first" and that got lots of members interested in seeing it. It also attracted a lot of attention from people who aren't members of the church - not because it told a watered-down story with Mormons in a way that wouldn't confuse "outsiders." Rather, "God's Army" was successful with those of other faiths who chose to see it because it wasn't watered down at all. At its heart it was completely and unashamedly LDS through and through. It gave them what they perceived as an "inside peek" at what this whole Mormon thing is all about. Its very existence made them curious - so they went to see what it was about.
We are a peculiar people - Brigham Young said it and we should embrace that. Remember "Fiddler on the Roof?" Were the Jewish elements of that film scaled back? Not at all. The writers of that musical (first on Broadway then on film) made a point of explaining things that the uninitiated might need to understand, but they didn't hold anything back, essentially worrying that non-Jewish audiences might not "get it." We should learn from that lesson - and the lesson of "God's Army." Let's make films that are wholly and entirely Mormon and let people see us for who we are. We have great stories to tell - BECAUSE of who we are, not in spite of it. We should give mainstream audiences an opportunity to peek in at Mormonism. Curiosity will create the crossover. And in the meantime, our stories will speak to their core audience - an audience we ought to embrace and be grateful for.
LDS CINEMA FILM SHOT IN U.K. BY TYLER FORD: PICADILLY COWBOY - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,600128127,00.html
LDS MOVIE COMES TO SHREVEPORT AND DAN HARVILLE WEIGHS IN - See http://www.shreveporttimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050427/NEWS01/504270328/1002/NEWS
SYRACUSE REVIEW: HIGH PRAISE FOR LDS CINEMA MOVIE "THE WORK AND THE GLORY" - See http://www.syracuse.com/entertainment/poststandard/index.ssf?/base/entertainment-0/111415914174040.xml&coll=1&thispage=1
REVIEW - LINCOLN STAR JOURNAL: WORK AND THE GLORY MOVIE: ABOUT THE EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH - See http://www.journalstar.com/articles/2005/04/23/values/doc42694f1fe91b1282116467.txt
BACKSTAGE.COM: FACE TO FACE WITH NEIL LABUTE - See http://www.backstage.com/backstage/features/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000895140
TRAPPED REMAKE: LAPSED MEMBER'S FILM SATIRIZES PREJUDICE AGAINST MORMONS - See http://www.washblade.com/2005/4-22/locallife/outindc/smack.cfm
DESNEWS: SALT LAKE CITY MAY REIN IN LOCAL FILMMAKING - See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,600128610,00.html
BOB NEWHART INTERVIEW DROWNED OUT BY FANS SCREAMING FOR LDS AM. IDOL'S JON PETER LEWIS - See http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/entertainment/television/11466540.htm
LDS AMERICAN IDOL CONTESTANT HANGING OUT WITH PAUL MCCARTNEY - See http://www.canyon-news.com/artman/publish/article_2764.php
JON PETER LEWIS TO STAR ON A SPECIAL EPISODE OF "FAMILY FEUD" - Ten former "American Idol" contestants got together recently to shoot an episode of "Family Feud" that will air in syndication the week of May 2. A men's team of A.J. Gill, George Huff, Jon Peter Lewis, Matt Rogers and Rickey Smith faced off against a women's team of Amy Adams, Vanessa Olivarez, Diana DeGarmo, Julia DeMato and Kimberley Locke... See http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1500261/20050415/snoop_dogg.jhtml?headlines=true
Hey, you remember when an LDS guy hosted this show? The late, great Ray Combs.
RECENTLY ON TMC CABLE: SHERLOCK HOLMES, SIGMUND FREUD, AND THE BOOK OF MORMON - THE SEVEN PER-CENT SOLUTION played on Turner Classic Movies channel on April 24th at 7:00 PM Pacific Daylight Savings Time. As is common for films on TCM and AMC, it is likely the film will air at other times in the near future - check your local listings. See our page about "The Seven Per-cent Solution at http://www.ldsfilm.com/movies/SevenPerCentSolution.html
NEW ZENNA HENDERSON PHOTO AVAILABLE - For LDS film fans, Zenna Henderson is remembered as the Mormon author of "The People" stories which were the basis for the 1972 TV movie "The People" starring William Shatner. The photo we had of Zenna Henderson was rather small and low res. We just replaced this with a much larger, higher quality photo scanned from a volume fo Contemporary Authors.
Look here: http://www.adherents.com/lit/bk_Zenna.html
We have added the entire article (text and scanned, including a high-res version) to our Zenna Henderson homepage. Although it is true that Conemporary Authors lists her religion as "Methodist," don't place too much stock in that. Henderson was born and raised as a Latter-day Saint, and her upbringing in the rural Mormon communities of Arizona is clearly the influence for The People stories, as well as many of her non-People stories. "Methodist" is apparently the religious affiliation of her husband. Henderson is not known to have been formally active as a Latter-day Saint after she married. A reading of all her stories as well as available letters and non-fiction paints a picture of an author whose writing drew heavily on her childhood background as well as adult experience as a school teacher. It is also apparent, especially in some of the non-People stories, that Henderson's religious and spiritual background had a profound impact on her, but she was not entirely comfortable or at home in any of the religious cultures she had lived in.
All serious readers of LDS fiction or science fiction should be familiar with Henderson's writing. At the very least you should read a few of her People stories. You'll probably want to read much more. This is wonderfully rewarding reading.
OFF TOPIC: LDS COLUMNIST, FORMER FILM REVIEWER HICKS TO PEOPLE WHO TAKE CELL PHONE CALLS IN MOVIES: WHAT THE #$&! IS WRONG WITH YOU?? - This is pretty much off topic... But kind of interesting and kind of funny in a pathetic, obnoxious way... See http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,600128117,00.html
MARIE OSMOND SURPRISES CHICAGO RESIDENT WITH A VISIT AFTER CHILDREN'S MIRACLE NETWORK SUCCESS - See http://abclocal.go.com/wls/news/extrainfo/042105_ex_osmond.html