The Book of Mormon Broadway musical is controversial for many Mormons, and apparently the discomfort goes both ways—the hit musical's producers recently rejected an ad for a LDS-produced film that was set to run in the playbill for The Book of Mormon's run in Detroit.---
The denial of the ad for The Saratov Approach, which was made in Salt Lake City, came from the corporate office of Broadway in Detroit on behalf of the producers through an e-mail stating, "I have bad news. Our final program has to be approved by the producers of The Book of Mormon and unfortunately they have asked us to not accept this ad,” the e-mail read. “I'm very sorry about that. We would love to have you in there, but it is their show and they have the final word."
Saratov Approach director Garrett Batty was inspired by the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical to make his own film. "That's a piece of theater that tells a Mormon missionary story different from the one I had experienced. I wanted to add my voice to the conversation,” Batty said.
The Book of Mormon is a rambunctious mockery of not just the LDS Church but of all religion and beliefs. It couldn’t be more different than Batty’s film, which follows the true story of two missionaries assigned in Russia who are abducted and held for a $300,000 ransom.
Spencer Harden, the film’s acquisition and development manager at Cedar Fort, asked the producers if it was their ad’s headline or content of the movie that created the problem. “They responded by saying ‘both,’” Harden said.
The LDS Church also bought ad space within the musical’s program in September 2012 with the simple line, “I’ve read the book,” referring to the faith’s main book of scripture. These ads were accepted for publication.
“The Saratov Approach is a sincere and serious look at Mormon missionaries in peril, and I guess for some reason that doesn't sit well with the producers of The Book of Mormon musical,” Harden said. “If people are at all curious about Mormons and are looking for entertainment, then they need to see the movie.”