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Wednesday, September 5, 2007
posted by Jon | 4:44 PM | permalink
I’m not normally one to cheer at the failings of others, but in this case I’ll make an exception. The motion picture September Dawn was hoped by many to be a body blow to the Romney campaign specifically and the LDS Church in general. The “truth” about the events of September 11, 1857 would “finally” be told and a “reckoning” would be had once and for all.

In the end, September Dawn turned out to be little more than it really was – Wishful Fiction.

For the record, I have not seen, nor will I see the movie. Frankly there are other more entertaining movies for which I’ll shell out my $8.50. Judging by the numbers, I’m not alone.

It took roughly $11 Million to make this film. After an opening weekend which grossed a whopping $601,857 from the 857 theaters which saw fit to show the film – breaking down to a very underwhelming $702 per venue – September Dawn has barely surpassed the $1 Million mark in total revenue ($1,059,110). I think I’m safe in assuming there won’t be a sequel.

To give an accurate comparison, three other LDS history inspired “Period Dramas” – The Work and The Glory, The Work and The Glory II: American Zion, and The Work and The Glory III: A House Divided each grossed more than September Dawn even though they had a much smaller release.

Just prior to the movie’s release, Blogfather Hugh interviewed director Chris Cain and main star Jon Voight. Both men came across as likable and although I admire most of their other work, all I needed to know about the foundations of September Dawn I learned in but one exchange:
HH: Did you help write it, Chris?
CC: Yeah.
HH: And when you sit down to do that, did you go to the Salt Lake City people first and say to them, I’m going to write a movie that’s got Brigham Young in it, do you have any tips?
CC: No, I did not do that.
HH: Are you glad that you didn’t? Or do you regret that you didn’t?
CC: Oh, we did the research. We’re in a time when you have computers. You can find almost anything you want on the internet, now. Most of our research was done through the internet. A lot of the stuff came out of the Mormon library.

The Internet is a great research tool, but nothing can substitute for an actual conversation or interview. If you “google” Mountain Meadows Massacre you’ll find a lot of information, but you’ll get most of it from people with several axes to grind. On the Internet, one source can appear to be as credible as the next even though said source writes from a hysterical point of view.

To the Blogfather’s credit, he published an email from a listener who took issue with a premise held by Chris Cain and most of the axe grinders – that being Brigham Young had knowledge of and probably personally ordered the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The listener, Mr. MacDonald, shreds Cain’s premise with stubborn things called facts. While Mr. Cain can claim not to have had an anti-Mormon agenda when making this film, the fact of the matter is he was heavily influenced by those who did.

In the final analysis, it doesn’t really matter. September Dawn will go down in movie history as not just a bomb, but a WMD. At its present pace, it won’t even out perform Mariah Carey’s Glitter – and that, dear reader, is a pretty damning indictment if ever there was one.

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