Handcart Movie Scheduled for Fall Release

PROVO, UTAH- Ampersand Films is pleased to announce the long-awaited release of Handcart on October 11, 2002 by Media Partners Entertainment (MPE) out of Phoenix, Arizona.  Originally scheduled for release on July 24, 2002 (Pioneer Day), the new release date came as a response to theaters’ recommendations and available screen space.  “It would have been very appropriate for a handcart story to be released on Pioneer Day, but the theaters asked for a different time”, says Handcart’s film director Kels Goodman. “We have to respect the theaters; this was a very big blockbuster summer for them.”

Typically, summer is the most popular season for moviegoers-a time when Hollywood pulls out all stops and releases on average 40 larger, high profile films. The only  difference this year is that Hollywood will have released 54 films by the summer movie season’s end, making it the biggest ever. This is due to many movies being held back after September 11 and scheduling with theaters for later release dates. As a result Ampersand Films and MPE decided an early fall release would give the movie the most available screen space, as well as allow Handcart to gain momentum going into the Christmas season.  “If we couldn’t do an official Pioneer Day release,” Goodman commented, “then we felt the next best possible time would be the weekend after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint’s October General Conference.  After all, it was during this conference in 1856, that Brigham Young made his historical call from the pulpit to ‘Bring them in.’ What better way to honor those pioneers than during the season that they suffered and sacrificed so much for their faith.”

The story of Handcart follows the fictional life of Samuel Hunter whose faith is  challenged when he joins the LDS church for the woman he loves and follows her along the ill-fated journey of Martin Handcart Company in 1856. The trek of the Martin Handcart Company to the Salt Lake valley is historically known as one of the most tragic events of western migration.

Over 150 men, women and children died of cold and starvation after escaping persecution in Iowa City and leaving too late in the season in Nebraska, only to encounter a very cold and early Wyoming winter. 

Similarly, the motion picture was filmed under rough circumstances over a five-week period in and around Utah with 25 handcarts and 350 extras and temperatures that often hovered around zero degrees Farenheit. “Even though the real company had about 100 handcarts and over 500 people, it didn’t matter”, revealed Goodman. “We couldn’t get everyone in the frame at once anyway”. Many of these extras weathered the cold for many days and gave of their time and resources because of their love for the pioneers and the sacrifice they made along the way.        

The film received favorable response after a limited showing at the Scera Theater in Orem, Utah on the evening of July 23rd. The audience was made up of a packed house of 500 cast, crew, family members and friends. As for an official premiere, October 10 is the projected date, with a goal to open in 20 theaters across Utah, Arizona, Las Vegas and Southern Idaho on October 11, making it one of the largest initial releases of an “LDS-themed” movie yet. MPE and Ampersand hope to expand the release across the country by the beginning of 2003, and then make its way into select international markets before releasing on video and DVD in the fall of 2003.  For more information, please visit www.handcartthemovie.com or www.kelsgoodman.com.


2002Meridian Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.