‘Meet the Mormons’ premiere attracts dozens of VIPs

MTM_Candy_Col. Gail Halvorsen (Ret.) greets fans
Gail Halvorsen, the “Candy Bomber”, greets fans. Halvorsen’s story is one of the six that is featured in Meet the Mormons. (LDS Church)

SANDY, UTAH — “Meet the Mormons,” the first ever commercial film to be produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, premiered at Jordan Commons on Tuesday, Oct. 7. The event attracted dozens of high-profile members of the church, including former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, “American Idol” star David Archuleta, and apostles Elder David A. Bednar and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve.

The movie, which will begin playing in theaters nationwide on Oct. 10, has generated a large amount of social media buzz as the release date quickly arrives. The church has reported it will be showing in more than 250 theaters across 41 different states, due in large part to church members sending requests to local theaters.

Marie Osmond and her husband Stephen pose for photographers at the Meet the Mormons premier in Sandy. The movie will be shown in theaters on Oct. 10. (Spencer Mecham)

“The film is really to show people who we are through the way we live our lives,” explained Blair Treu, the director of the movie. “It’s more about who we are as a result of attempting to live our beliefs than it is the beliefs themselves.”

Blair said that the film was originally created to play at the Legacy Theater in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City. But after receiving an overwhelmingly positive reaction from many nonmembers who viewed the film, church leaders decided to introduce the film in theaters across the nation.

The film profiles six LDS Church members from many different backgrounds, attempting to show who Mormons are as a result of their beliefs.

One high-profile story features Gail S. Halvorsen, known by many as the “Berlin Candy Bomber.” The name comes from Halverson’s days as an United States Air Corps pilot where he dropped candy from his plane to children hundreds of feet below during the Berlin air lift. The Soviets closed off western access to East Berlin just after World War II.

David Archuleta, a well known member of the church and former contestant on “American Idol,” also released his first single as part of the movie’s soundtrack. Entitled “Glorious,” the music video has already attracted more than 800,000 viewers on YouTube.

According to Treu, one of the most fun parts of the movie is the variety of stories.

“We asked audiences what their favorite stories were, and they can’t decide,” he explained. “They all have different answers. There is a little something for everyone.”

Many of those involved in the movie have said that understanding is the film’s primary goal, setting it apart from most other LDS films.

“We don’t expect everyone in the world to agree with us,” said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve. “But we would like people to understand us.”

Treu had a similar goal for the movie, hoping it would help dispel some of the inaccurate impressions that pop culture and media have created.

“I want people to come out thinking ‘Hey, these people aren’t as weird as I thought they were,'” he explained. “It will be okay to have one as a neighbor, or a business associate or even a babysitter.”

Many BYU students may find the film playing in their hometown. The Church is relying largely on social media to generate the needed publicity. Members are encouraged to invite their friends and share it on their social media profiles. The Church is using the Twitter hashtag #MeetTheMormons.

Treu also said he believes it would make a great date night movie and would lead to many fun discussions throughout the date.

The movie is scheduled to play at Cinemark theaters at the Provo and Orem malls. For a complete list of theater locations that will be showing the movie, see the “Meet the Mormons” official website.

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