Excel’s marketing team has done a pretty good job hyping the film version of “The Work and the Glory” as it continues to open in theatres across the country. The film’s opening has been mentioned and even reviewed in quite a few newspapers. And although the film has so far only met — not exceeded — expectations, it’s still done fairly well. According to LDS Film, it has now earned $2,639,519 and trails only “The Other Side of Heaven” in box office gross for LDS films.
The film will have a new wave of openings on March 11, and to announce it Excel filed a press release with PR Newswire titled ‘The Work and the Glory’ Makes Way for 200th Birthday Celebration for Founder of Mormon Church.
The subhed reads:
“The epic film, “The Work and the Glory” continues its nationwide release on March 11, 2005 by releasing into another 78 cities across the country. The film focuses on how the religious claims made by Joseph Smith back in the 1820’s affected families and communities as a whole and threatened to tear them apart. 2005 marks the 200th birthday of the religion’s founder and the release of the film kicks off a year full of celebrations by its members worldwide.”
This is a strategy that I certainly understand, but don’t entirely like. I’d probably do the same, but at the same time, this press release is rather coy about the fact that the movie isn’t part of the celebration activies of the actual LDS Church.
It’s hard for me to describe exactly what I object to because on one level I don’t object at all. I certainly don’t think that only Church-sanctioned activities should be part of the coverage of Joseph Smith’s 200th.
And some might argue that inasmuch as Excel has been bought by Deseret Book and the author of the books the film is based on is a general authority of the Church [one Gerald N. Lund], it’s almost like the Church is sponsoring it anyway.
But this mixing of commerce with the activities of the Church kind of bugs me.
This sentence from the press release typifies what I’m talking about:
“Since the limited release of ‘The Work and the Glory,’ the film has surpassed $2.5 million in box office and serves as the first big event of the year’s commemorations which include dance festivals, youth conferences, trips to church historical sites, and symposia.”