Summarized by Kent Larsen
'Gods Army' Invades Hollywood
Salt Lake Tribune 27Apr00 A4
By Sean P. Means: Salt Lake Tribune
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA -- Richard Dutcher's LDS film "God's Army"
opens in Los Angeles on Friday, invading Hollywood's core territory and
continuing its effort to prove the size of the market for LDS films.
Dutcher and the other actors in the film will be at Friday's premiere
at the Vine Theatre, near the corner of Hollywood and Vine. The film
also opens at six additional theaters in suburban Orange and Riverside
While Dutcher would be pleased if large numbers of non-LDS patrons saw
his film, but he says that the film is not targeted at them. "I made
the film for the LDS audience, so I'm not all that concerned when it
doesn't become this huge crossover hit,"he told the Salt Lake Tribune.
"Even if it only reaches an LDS audience, it has enough of an audience
to sustain itself in just about every major city in the United States
and even most of the minor ones," said Dutcher. He says that the LDS
audience is large enough to support a film by itself. "Whether we go to
Indianapolis or Pittsburgh or Fort Lauderdale, [Fla.], anywhere where
there's four or five wards in a town, that's enough people to open it
for a week. . . . Most of the art houses out there that show foreign
films or independent stuff, if they have 50 people on a Friday night,
they think that's a pretty good house, and they're able to stay afloat
like that." The audience currently seeing the film has been 80 to 85
percent LDS "and the people that they bring," says Dutcher.
Critics have sometimes agreed that the film is meant for LDS viewers.
M.V. Moorhead in the Phoenix New Times says, "'God's Army' doesn't
really seem to be aimed at non-Mormons -- it has more the feel of a
sort of training/morale propaganda film for missionary kids who may be
struggling with the urge to ditch." Other reviewers simply don't think
the movie is as good as it could be. Las Vegas City Life's Anthony Del
Valle says Dutcher cheats the viewers out of what he promises in his
premise because he "sets up compelling dramatic situations but resolves
them all undramatically."
Dutcher says some people simply don't like Mormons in general, "so
'God's Army' is not a popular movie with them. In Las Vegas, in one of
the weekly papers a non-Mormon reviewer gave us a really high review --
and you open up the other weekly paper and they gave us a 'bomb'
review, just a really vicious attack. . . . I'm expecting more of the
same. It's going to be kind of interesting when we get into Nashville,
[Tenn.], and Atlanta, to see how those reviews come in," Dutcher says,
refering to the anti-Mormon sentiment typical in much of the South.
The movie's success among LDS Church members is also evident in its
sales patterns. Unlike Hollywood films, sales on Mondays and during the
week are large, "Our Sundays, of course, are almost nonexistent and our
Mondays are so huge," Dutcher said. In spite of warnings that
distributor Excel Entertainment gives to Theaters, they're usually
surprised, "They always have too few people working at the theater and
not enough people behind the candy counter," adds Dutcher.