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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended April 16, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
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Sent on Mormon-News: 13Apr00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Incredible Success Of 'God's Army' Reaches Outside Utah
Kent Larsen 13Apr00 A4

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The success of the LDS film "God's Army" reached beyond Utah for the first time last week as the film opened on three screens in eastern Idaho. The film opened to strong sales on screens in Pocatello, Blackfoot and Idaho Falls, Idaho on Friday, February 7th, putting the film on a total of 32 screens in Utah and now Idaho. This Friday it opens on 4 more screens, including one in Reno, Nevada and is expected to reach $1 million in box office sales, according to distributor Excel Entertainment spokesperson Mary Jane Jones. The film has reached #35 in national rankings of box office sales.

Excel is distributing "God's Army" in what is known as a 'platform release,' where the film starts in one area and expands to the rest of the country. In order to keep building, the film must open strongly in each market, and continue to attract strong audiences while the release continues. Yesterday, Excel released the film's schedule for the next month, showing planned openings in Arizona, western Idaho, Oregon and California over the next few weeks.

One critical date in the opening schedule is the film's openings on April 21st, when it will hit the Phoenix metropolitan area, western Idaho and Las Vegas, Nevada. These openings will test the film's strength in areas that are not predominantly LDS for the first time.

Beyond the listed schedule, plans include taking "God's Army" to theaters in major cities with a large enough LDS population to give the film a strong start. Cities planned include Portland, Seattle, Houston, Denver, Dallas, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and New York City, according to Excel Entertainment's Dean Hale.

Hale credits LDS church member Larry Miller with creating the buzz the film needed to expand from a few theaters in Utah County, Utah. Miller, who owns the NBA's Utah Jazz, also owns a theater in Sandy, where the film debuted. He says Miller was willing to take a chance with the film and gave it a strong premiere that allowed the film a base to grow from.

"God's Army" has also managed to get beyond the independent theaters that are most open to non-Hollywood movies. It is showing on 3 Utah screens in the Cineplex Odeon chain, and has been able to get onto screens of the Cinemark chain, whose president is a member of the LDS Church.


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