The sequel to The Other Side of Heaven has had a long journey to the big screen, but thanks to perseverance and faith, The Other Side of Heaven 2: Fire of Faith will finally be making its long-awaited appearance in theaters nationwide this weekend on June 28, 2019.
The film—which again portrays the life of Elder John H. Groberg, this time as a mission president with his family in Tonga—was up against a high production bar set by the first film. The Other Side of Heaven was not only distributed by Disney but it also had a massive $11-million-dollar budget and had landed the soon-to-be Hollywood star Anne Hathaway as its lead. But for producer Mitch Davis and emeritus General Authority Seventy Elder John H. Groberg, that didn’t matter. “The movie succeeded at a sufficient level to be propelled around all the world,” Davis has said. “That’s our objective with the new film also.” He has often shared that the first film has been pirated around the world, influencing and introducing the gospel of Christ, and that is the goal with the sequel as well.
For years, Davis resisted Elder Groberg’s and others’ urges to make a second movie. “The last thing I wanted to do was have a movie made about my experiences,” Elder Groberg shared at a press event last year. In fact, the books the movies are based on, The Other Side of Heaven and Fire of Faith, about his experiences as a pioneering missionary and mission president in Fiji were written at the insistence of then-Elder Thomas S. Monson, who had served alongside Elder Groberg and his family in Fiji. President Monson admonished him not to let that chapter of Church history fade from memory. It was President Monson’s words that have continued to echo in Elder Groberg’s head, and Elder Groberg notes that President Monson’s insistence to turn Fire of Faith into a feature film has only increased now that he is on the other side of the veil.
“The first movie we made big. I didn’t want to make a 10-cent movie and besmirch or diminish Elder Groberg’s story by making it small,” Davis has shared. “And frankly, I didn’t want to do it just to make a buck. Nobody on the first movie was commercially or financially focused, which is one of the reasons I believe it possessed the spirit that it possessed and the capacity it possessed to go through all the world. So, if I was going to make a sequel to make money, that spirit would not be there.”
It wasn’t until Elder Groberg pulled Davis aside one day and told him that even after his death President Monson was urging the second film to be made that Davis sincerely began to contemplate a sequel. Davis recalls Elder Groberg telling him, “I’m not getting any younger, Mitch, and neither are you. It’s time.” When Davis protested that it was financially impossible, Elder Groberg’s simple response was, “I have faith. I know this needs to be done, and the Lord will make a way.”
Many challenges and miracles later and after over a year of promotional events, trailers, and anticipation-building, The Other Side of Heaven 2 brings the same level of intense emotion, faith, and inspiration that viewers remember from the first film.
The film's world premiere on Wednesday, June 26, at the Jordan Commons Megaplex Theater in Sandy, Utah, featured a special musical number by the One Voice Children's Choir and was attended by several of the actors, including Christopher Gorham, and numerous members of the Groberg posterity, along with other recognizable members of the community and the Church. The massive event was the beautiful culmination of the hard work and generosity of many, and the movie itself left many in tears with its touching message of finding faith in all situations and building bridges of love between various religious leaders. Elder Groberg left a parting remark at the end of the evening that he hoped all who saw the movie would go home wanting to be better.
As for Davis, “My passion on this topic is not diminished,” he said at a press event for the movie last year, talking about the importance of creating films that matter, especially in the Latter-day Saint realm. “Our stories are as big as we think they are,” Davis insists, and he and his team have worked hard to make this movie just as big, powerful, and spiritual as the first.
Find out where the film will be playing in a theater near you or request special screenings here.
The Other Side of Heaven 2: Fire of Faith* continues the epic true saga of Elder John H. Groberg's missionary adventures in Tonga as depicted in the eponymous Disney-distributed hit film of 2001. Whereas the original movie detailed Elder Groberg's first mission to Tonga in the 1950s as a 19-year-old bachelor, the sequel tells the inspiring true story of his return to Tonga in the 1960s with his wife and five young daughters to serve as President of the Tonga-Fiji Mission.
Shortly after arriving in Tonga, John's wife, Jean, becomes pregnant with their sixth child, a boy who is born with a serious illness that threatens to end his tiny young life. In fact, the boy is born too weak to be evacuated to another country with medical care sufficient to properly diagnose and treat him.
With their child's life on the line, John and Jean face the ultimate trial of their faith only to find themselves enfolded in the love and prayers of thousands of Tongans of various religions who unite in a nationwide fast for the health of their little boy. Barriers of inter-religious strife are broken down as all unite in hopes of a miracle that will save the Groberg baby boy's life, as well as that of the son of a non-Latter-day Saint Tongan minister who has been beaten within inches of his life.
*The film is rated PG-13 due to some thematic material and violence.