See Mormon Film: Key Films of the Fifth Wave
Few films in the history of LDS-related movies have been as controversial as States of Grace
. It was born out of necessity after Richard Dutcher's attempts to create a theatrical film on Joseph Smith foundered. This aborted project and other diversions kept Dutcher from releasing a film for four years, and the concept of a sequel to his original hit God's Army
was both plausible and sufficiently attractive to investors. This time Dutcher divied up some of the producing duties and did not act in the picture, but he took upon himself the mantle of editor for the first time. Both this and his subsequent film Falling
were shot in Los Angeles at the same time. With a new firm called Main Street Movie Company and a more pragmatic vision for the future of LDS cinema, Dutcher hoped to make these two films his reentry to local prominence and his ticket to greater national notoreity.
Unfortunately, although most critics agreed that the film was exceptional, States of Grace
suffered immensely from a lack of publicity, the reputation LDS cinema had accumulated from films released during Dutcher's hiatus, and, eventually, controversy over some of its thematic material. It opened against strong competition, shortly after the second Work and the Glory
film and on the same day as the LDS documentary New York Doll
, besides arriving only a few weeks before Hollywood's Christmas blockbusters. Many potential audience members were therefore unable to see it, and others were turned away by the film's original title of God's Army 2: States of Grace
, dismissing it as another mediocre Mormon movie. Finally, those who were eagerly anticipating it hardly had any notice of its release. With all this stacked against it, the film quickly disappeared from theaters.
Dropping the God's Army
moniker, States of Grace
reappeared in January 2006 for a more respectable run, though it still fell short of the filmmakers' hopes. By this point the controversy over the film had reached a boiling point, particularly as Dutcher himself realized he needed to differentiate his brand from other LDS filmmakers, particularly at HaleStorm Entertainment, and he thus spoke openly for the first time about the poor quality of his competitors' work and how they had poisoned his dream for a spiritual, Christ-centered cinema emanating from Latter-day Saints. Critics derided him for his outspoken metaphors, his film's poor showing, and its mature content, at worst accusing it of being morally corrupting.
However, the film, which was released on DVD in October 2006, had a strong enough critical response to enable Dutcher to continue filming more projects without another break similar to his 2001-2005 hiatus. Apparently he has become soured on the LDS market and, to both remain profitable and increase his national prestige, these films are not geared towards LDS audiences. His publicity material, which once stated Mormon films were the reason for his making movies, now describe how he is an eclectic filmmaker whose diverse interests have not been fully grasped by a public that has pigeonholed him as "the Father of LDS Cinema."