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SALT LAKE CITY — A decade ago, the movie "Charly" won over film fans in record numbers for a movie with a Mormon story. Now the movie is back, redone in immersion 3D with new scenes and an expanded story.
Lance C. Williams, producer of the original "Charly" film, is adamant about what the new 3D version of the movie is, a version about to be released on the film's 10-year mark.
"This is not just a movie redone in 3D," Williams said. "It's fresh with new scenes and changes to the storyline, plugs in the holes.
"No matter what happens, it's going to be cool!" Williams said. "It will blow the audience' minds."
The 3D-ness isn't the kind that boasts pop-in-your-face images. Williams admits that would be silly for something like "Charly."
"This is the immersion 3D that draws the viewer into the story rather than push the story out," Williams said. "This isn't your father's 3D or what you're used to. It's not effects 3D. It's more like the 3D used in "Avatar."
People see things around them in immersion 3D, Williams explained, so the images will be more natural and have more depth.
He's pumped about the prospect of bringing back one of the most popular LDS films to the market, a film that raked in almost $1 million in 2002 and has been a top DVD seller for a decade.
"We were killed last time going up against 'Sweet Home Alabama' with Reese Witherspoon," he said. "We're making smarter choices this time."
The changes make for a much more satisfying story.
–Lance C. Williams
This time out, the March 30 release date to first-run theaters was chosen carefully. It coincides with the general conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and does not conflict with the release of the 3D Star Wars movies in February, which was the original target release date.
Since "Charly" is based on the book by LDS author Jack Weyland and has a definitive Mormon theme, it makes sense to release it at the same time that faithful Mormons around the world will be gathering.
From the start, Williams has felt the story of Charlene Riley meeting and falling for Mormon Sam Roberts is a powerful one.
That's saying a lot for a movie guy who has the words "It's the story, stupid!" emblazoned above his office door.
He's called in the original actors to shoot new scenes. This version has the actual conversion on film, something Williams felt was shortchanged the first time around.
"It is the shot. It should have been in the first film," he said. "The changes make for a much more satisfying story."
Williams and his crew have expanded some parts and fixed some problems such as lengthening the time that Sam and Charly know each other before they get very serious.
"We've spent a lot of money to do this," he said.
He's also spent a good amount of time on the project, chipping away at it a little every day for the past 10 years, pulling Heather Beers and Jeremy Hoop, who played Charly and Sam, back several times for audio adjustments and reshoots.
Hoop said he's been gratified that overall the film has had a positive effect on those that saw it. "It's touched a lot of people. I get a lot of that," he said.
He hasn't seen the new scenes or the changes wrought by 3D but he's interested to see "Charly" re-released.
"For me, the timing (the first time out) helped in terms of recognition," Hoop said. "It has had, overall, a very beneficial effect on my career."
Beers said although she's done many subsequent films and projects since the original release of "Charly," it's Charly who gets recognized when she's out and about.
"Just about anywhere I go, from 3 year olds to grandmas, people talk to me and ask me if I'm Charly," Beers said. "It's pretty amazing."
Going back to the character to shoot new scenes, especially the conversion scene, was challenging and surprisingly emotional, she said. "It was strange (to go back after) that many years to put myself back into the character."
Beers said she likes being associated with such a positive film character.
"It did lead to other roles," she said. "It was my first big role for sure."
Beers thinks releasing the film anew is a good idea. "The thing that resonates with people is love. 'Charly's a hopeful film. That resonates."
"We have a ravenous fan base — fans who will be very excited to see the new version," Williams said.
"There's also an entire generation who haven't seen 'Charly'."
West Ridge Academy in West Jordan is the movie's sponsor.
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org