“Made me miss my missionary!”
These are a few of the spontaneous reactions of people who attended Meet the Mormons on opening night. The feature-length film was produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and opened in 250 theaters throughout the United States on October 10.Weekend box office statistics showed “Meet the Mormons” at #11 for the weekend.
This was the evening crowd. A Friday night. There were a lot of other things people could have been doing, but as many as could fit inside filled Theater 17 at Century Park Place 20 in Tucson, Arizona. As a matter of fact, though the film had originally been scheduled to show in only one of the complex’s theaters, they opened two more to accommodate demand.
One Sunday school class of 12 and 13-year-olds attended together in a trip arranged by their teachers, Karl and Martha Kern of the Camino Principal Ward, Tucson East Stake of the Church. Nine of the ten class members came, some bringing cousins and friends. One 13-year-old friend made a point of waiting for his turn to make a comment. “I am Muslim,” he said, “and I was surprised by this movie. I have great respect for Mormons.” He noted that while he is used to seeing religious devotion among people of his own faith, “I didn’t know Mormons had so much invested in their beliefs.”
Several class members also wanted to voice their opinions, many with just a word: “Excellent,” “Great!” or “Awesome!” But Ryan Bridges summed it up by reporting that he was “mind-blown by spiritual awesomeness.”
Another called it “amazing” and said it was “funny in spots,” with people shown as they really are—the dad who does the goofy dance, the mom playing peek-a-boo with her kids, the older man who was impressed by the fact that his wife had “her original teeth.” In some ways they are just everyday, ordinary people; in others, outstanding for their uniqueness; and all motivated by their faith in Jesus Christ.
Audience members report new understanding of who Mormons really are. Bob and Donna Sanford of the La Cholla Ward, Tucson North Stake, had real incentive to be at the movie on opening night. Their daughter is a missionary. Through an online network of missionary parents, they received an email from one of the subjects of the last segment of the film—the one that dealt with how missionaries change lives, and what they and their families sacrifice so that they can serve their fellow beings. She shared that people who had seen the film in early screenings commented, “I will never treat missionaries the same way again. I will let them in, I will be kinder. I now realize what these young men, women and families give up to be serving others.”
Audience response nationwide has been overwhelming. Because of high interest and attendance, Meet the Mormons will continue to play at Century Park Place 20 has been extended through at least Oct. 16. Advance tickets can be purchased through Fandango.com. All proceeds go to the American Red Cross.