Five Years and Mormon Cinema

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March marks five years since Excel Entertainment released God?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s Army in limited theatres in the United States. Certainly in the past five years a lot has happened in the LDS film industry, but are we any better off? Has LDS film become respected?

When we saw Other Side of Heaven Charly in the theatre someone walked out as soon as the Mormon references emerged. Does that same sort of thing happen today? Are people going to see The Work and The Glory who are not Mormon?

Are we producing films simply for consumption, or are there though-provoking, well-written films being produced?

What is going to happen from now until March 2010?

12 thoughts on “Five Years and Mormon Cinema

  1. Just because I own a theater in Utah it doesn’t make me an authority. Here’s my input, after hosting the L.D.S. film festival for the past two years.

    Mormon produced films are for Mormons with very rare exceptions. The quality is generally on the poor to terrible side.

    Exceptions: Brigham City, Napoleon Dynamite.

    Good to better quality productions include: God’s Army, Single’s Ward, Brigham City, Napoleon Dynamite, and Work and the Glory.

    Bad to terrible include: Best Two years, The R.M., Baptist at our BBQ, Sons of Provo.

    We will always have good and bad films, Disney doesn’t hit a winner every time either.

    I don’t see anything wrong with producing films for the Mormon audience, and I think we should support them, even the poorer ones.

    I think there are several very talented L.D.S. people involved in the film industry in almost every aspect. If they get the breaks, money and support they could make great movies that would appeal to a broad audience.

    We tend to single out the LDS films as a group and that’s ok. I don’t know of any other “Church” group per se that does productions for movie theaters. I have seen a couple of ads over the years for “born again” “the end is coming” types of movies and a few made for T.V., but nothing like the “Mormons” do.

    That’s my take on things, I hope the industry grows, matures and gets better, we need more wholesome movie entertainment.

  2. I hope for a greater exposure of the Mormon story in cinema whether or not it is done by LDS filmmakers or not. I can’t understand why Hollywood hasn’t picked up the Joseph Smith story yet. I don’t want anything saccharine, just honest.

  3. Hey Don any chance you have pull to send movies to BC Canada when you are done with them? We never get them out here to see!!!

  4. Smiles, sorry I’m on the wrong end of distribution to influence where movies go. However, you and some of your “friends” could email Favorite Theaters, or Regal or whoever owns/operates the local theater and express your desire to see a particular film. If they got enough requests they would probably bring it in for a weeks trial. Then it would be up to you and everyone else to support it.

    We now get all the LDS stuff here in Spokane, The Work and The Glory has played for 3 weeks because there is enough LDS support to make it profitable for Regal theaters to play it.

  5. Geoff,

    Opps, You’re right I forgot The Other Side of Heaven. I’d rate it as one of the best LDS films, good for us morms but hardly a box office hit to the regular world.

    It was well done, good story, but because it involves Mormon Missionaries and showed the faith and miracles that happened it can’t be accepted by non-LDS.

  6. One more comment. You are all lucky you don’t see all of the LDS films. We had three real dogs at the LDS film festival that hopefully won’t make it to the “Big Screen”. Spirit Hunter, Black Cloud, and Think Tank. If they come to a local theater near you go ahead and go see them, they need the money…and hopefully they will have learned something and can use it to make something better.

    I feel like Roger Ebbert…only alive.

  7. I hope I don’t come off as a nitpicker but here are a couple of things Don:

    You wrote:
    >I don’t know of any other “Church”
    >group per se that does productions
    >for movie theaters.

    #1. I don’t know if they count as a “group” but Catholic movies are so common you probably don’t even realize you are watching them. There are a lot of Jewish movies too.

    #2. It’s Siskel, not Ebert who’s pushing up daisies.

  8. Kim, you say someone walked out of The Other Side of Heaven when the Mormon references started to appear. But I can’t find any explicitly Mormon references in the whole movie. In fact, the filmmakers went far–much too far in my view–to avoid being too Mormon-specific. It makes for some confusing scenes: Why couldn’t the local members help the boy who was dead or dying, rather than turning to the missionary? The real answer is that only he and the Branch President held the Melchizedek Priesthood. And in the real story, the missionary went to the Branch President, a Tongan, for help.

  9. ltbugaf, that movie reeked of LDS doctrine.

    If you’re unable to see that it’s prbably due to your immersion in the culture already. (malice completely not intended with this comment) :)

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