‘Heaven’ Opens Strong Nationally; Breaks Top 20; #1 Per Screen Average on Monday Night

The independent family feature “The Other Side of Heaven” had a strong opening this past weekend, cracking the nationwide box office top 20.

Distributed by Salt Lake based Excel Entertainment Group, the PG-film grossed $688,762 in 306 theaters for a per screen average of $2550. Total box office receipts since the film opened in limited release are now nearly $2.8 million ($2,716,662).

The true story of a Mormon missionary sent to the kingdom of Tonga in the 1950’s, the movie had the top per screen average of any film in the nation for Monday night. Distributors attribute this to the fact that many families, especially Mormon families, set Monday night aside as a special family night and will attend movies together.

The film’s strong box office showing in spite of a lack of national television or radio advertising may surprise some insiders. The film was promoted through a combination of guerilla PR and volunteer grassroots campaigns that mobilized support for the movie in communities around the nation.

Reviewers praised the film’s spectacular cinematography, outstanding production values and uniformly strong acting from stars Christopher Gorham, Anne Hathaway and Joe Folau. Jane Horowitz of the Washington Post lauded the “solid, unfussy acting and gorgeous scenery” while Gary Arnold of the Washington Times called the film “a welcome departure from the not-so-heavenly fare that comes from Hollywood.”

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops also applauded the film, calling it “inspiring [and] sincere.” AP writer Sheila Norman-Culp called the film a “sweet coming-of-age tale… a wry, gentle comedy… truly a family-friendly film…. The humor is universal, the Pacific Island setting is spectacular, and the true-life story has its intriguing aspects.”


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