Promised Land (2012 film)

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Promised Land

Theatrical release poster
Directed byGus Van Sant
Produced byChris Moore
Matt Damon
John Krasinski
Screenplay byJohn Krasinski
Matt Damon
Story byDave Eggers
StarringMatt Damon
John Krasinski
Frances McDormand
Music byDanny Elfman
CinematographyLinus Sandgren
Editing byBilly Rich
StudioParticipant Media
Image Nation Abu Dhabi
Distributed byFocus Features
Release date(s)
  • December 28, 2012 (2012-12-28) (United States)
Running time106 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$15 million
Box office$294,318
 
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Promised Land

Theatrical release poster
Directed byGus Van Sant
Produced byChris Moore
Matt Damon
John Krasinski
Screenplay byJohn Krasinski
Matt Damon
Story byDave Eggers
StarringMatt Damon
John Krasinski
Frances McDormand
Music byDanny Elfman
CinematographyLinus Sandgren
Editing byBilly Rich
StudioParticipant Media
Image Nation Abu Dhabi
Distributed byFocus Features
Release date(s)
  • December 28, 2012 (2012-12-28) (United States)
Running time106 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$15 million
Box office$294,318

Promised Land is a 2012 American drama film directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Frances McDormand, and Hal Holbrook. The screenplay is written by Damon and Krasinski based on a story by Dave Eggers. Promised Land follows two corporate salespeople who visit a rural town in an attempt to buy drilling rights from the local residents.

Damon was originally attached to direct the film, but he was replaced by Van Sant. Filming took place mainly in Pittsburgh from early to mid-2012. The movie was shot on locations in and around the town of Worthington, Pennsylvania, which is about 40 miles northeast of Pittsburgh in rural Armstrong County.[1]

During filming and afterward, the film's highlighting of the resource extraction process hydraulic fracturing, colloquially known as "fracking", emerged as a topic of debate. Bloomberg reports that, just before the movie starts playing, many Pennsylvania movie-goers will see a message from the energy industry offering “straightforward facts” about hydraulic fracturing, as an unorthodox, on-screen "pre-buttal" of Promised Land, as part of an industry campaign aimed at heading off criticism about the "fracking" process.[1]

The film was released in select cities in the United States on December 28, 2012, and followed with a nationwide release on January 4, 2013. [2] The film is scheduled to have its international premiere at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival in February 2013.[3]

Contents

Synopsis

Corporate salesperson Steve Butler and his sales partner Sue Thomason visit a rural town to buy drilling rights from local residents who seek relief after the recent economic decline. They encounter resistance from a schoolteacher, who is supported by a grassroots campaign organized by another man who seeks to rival Butler.[4]

Cast

Production

Promised Land is directed by Gus Van Sant based on a screenplay by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, who are film producers along with Chris Moore. The screenplay was based on a story by Dave Eggers. Krasinski came up with the film's premise and developed the idea with Eggers. They pitched the idea to Damon, suggesting that both Damon and Krasinski would write and star in the film. The project was set up at Warner Bros. with Damon attached as director in October 2011, in what would have been his directorial debut. Filming was scheduled to begin in early 2012.[5]

In January 2012, Damon stepped down as director due to scheduling conflicts but remained involved with the project.[6] Damon contacted Gus Van Sant, who directed him in the 1997 film Good Will Hunting, and Van Sant joined the project as director.[7] The project was in turnaround at Warner Bros., and by the following February, Focus Features and Participant Media acquired rights to produce the film. The title was announced to be Promised Land.[8] With a production budget of $15 million,[9] filming began in Pennsylvania in late April 2012.[4] Over eighty percent of the crew were hired out of Pittsburgh. Filming mostly took place in Avonmore, Pennsylvania, which was the main setting for the film's rural town of McKinley. Additional filming locations for the town were locations in Armstrong County including Apollo, Worthington, and Slate Lick. Other filming locations in Pennsylvania were Alexandria, Delmont, Export, and West Mifflin. Filming also took place at the Grand Concourse at Station Square in Pittsburgh. Several hundred extras were hired for the film, and filming lasted for 30 days.[10]

The film score was composed by Danny Elfman.[11] Three songs by The Milk Carton Kids including Snake Eyes, The Ash & Clay and Jewel of June were also written for the film.[12]

Fracking as film topic

In April 2012, the resource extraction process hydraulic fracturing, colloquially known as "fracking", was reported as a key topic in Promised Land that would be cast in a negative light. Filmmakers raising funds for the pro-fracking documentary FrackNation, who reported the topic, said Promised Land "will increase unfounded concerns about fracking".[13] Phelim McAleer, the director of FrackNation, said Dimock, Pennsylvania was the likely inspiration for Promised Land. McAleer said despite Dimock families' claims that fracking activity contaminated their water, the state and EPA's scientists did not find anything wrong.[14] Politico said Promised Land reflected a trend about fracking since the release of the 2010 documentary film Gasland, which was nominated for an Academy Award.[13] The Huffington Post said, "The procedure has caused concern due in part to the chemicals injected into the wells for drilling, which may taint nearby drinking water." It reported that Damon had posted in 2010 a YouTube video to promote the Working Families Party, which works "to prevent risky natural gas drilling".[15]

Krasinski, who co-wrote the screenplay and stars in Promised Land, said the film's original premise involved wind power. Krasinski said wind power was replaced by fracking as a more relevant backdrop based on news coverage in recent years.[10]

In September 2012, CNBC reported that a group of residents from Armstrong County, Pennsylvania are protesting the film and have formed a Facebook group. The group said, "They filmed this movie in our backyard. They told us it would be fair to drilling. It’s not. We’re p*ssed [sic]."[16]

The Wall Street Journal reported that in the months leading up to the film's release, the energy industry expressed concern about how the film would portray fracking. A spokesperson for Independent Petroleum Association of America said, "We have to address the concerns that are laid out in these types of films." The industry plans to send scientific studies to film critics, to distribute leaflets to film audiences, and to use social media like Facebook and Twitter as a response to the film. James Schamus, chief executive of the film's distributor Focus Features said, "We've been surprised at the emergence of what looks like a concerted campaign targeting the film even before anyone's seen it."[17][18]

Financing

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, reported that Promised Land was financed in part by Image Nation Abu Dhabi, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media, which is wholly owned by the United Arab Emirates. The foundation said that the UAE, as a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has "a direct financial interest... in slowing the development of America's natural gas industry" and suggested that its financing of the film "may have an impact on the public's view of the [fracking] practice".[19][20] Image Nation said it provided financing to the film as part of an ongoing partnership with Participant Media, "regardless of genre or subject matter".[17][18]

Release

Promised Land had a limited release on December 28, 2012, making it eligible for the 85th Academy Awards.[21] The film was released in 25 theaters and grossed an estimated $53,000 on its first day, a "sobering" average of $2,120.[22] For the opening weekend, Promised Land grossed an estimated $190,000. The film will expand to approximately 1,500 theaters on January 4, 2013. Box Office Mojo reported, "It's unlikely that it will be able to pull many people away from the various other appealing options in theaters right now."[23]

Promised Land had a bad start when it was released to a wider audience, of 1,676 theatres, on January 4, 2013. The box office numbers for the film were a lackluster and disappointing $4.3 million, well below expectations.[24]

Reviews of the film have been mixed. The Los Angeles Times reported that most critics felt that Promised Land did not reach its full potential.[25] Rotten Tomatoes reported an average rating of 5.8 out of 10 among 105 reviews. Based on the reviews, it gave the film a score of 50%.[26] Metacritic gave the film a score of 54 out of 100 based on 32 reviews.[27] New York Times film critic A.O. Scott praised Promised Land as a film that "works" mainly "by putting character ahead of story" and by "inviting the actors to be warm, funny and prickly".[28] Liam Lacey of the Toronto Globe and Mail is critical of the film: "Apart from its warm, gentle tone, much about Promised Land simply isn’t good, especially the inconsistencies in the screenplay. After the mood-setting first half, things start to unravel."[29] Tina Gerhardt, writing at The Progressive, said that she found the film to be a "mixed bag", lauding it for bringing concerns associated with fracking to a nation-wide audience. [30]

References

  1. ^ a b Drajem, Mark (January 4, 2013). "Fracker Ad Clashes on Screen With Damon’s ‘Promised Land’". Bloomberg. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-04/fracker-ad-clashes-on-screen-with-damon-s-promised-land-.html.
  2. ^ Gerhardt, Tina (31 December 2012). "Matt Damon Exposes Fracking in Promised Land". The Progressive. http://www.progressive.org/matt-damon-exposes-fracking-in-promised-land.
  3. ^ "First Films for the Competition and Berlinale Special". berlinale. http://www.berlinale.de/en/presse/pressemitteilungen/alle/Alle-Detail_15828.html. Retrieved 2012-12-13.
  4. ^ a b "Production Begins on Gus Van Sant's Promised Land". ComingSoon.net. April 24, 2012. http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=89573. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  5. ^ Kit, Borys (October 19, 2011). "Matt Damon to Direct Warner Bros. Drama He Co-Wrote With John Krasinski". The Hollywood Reporter. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/matt-damon-john-krasinski-250753.
  6. ^ Kit, Borys (January 5, 2012). "Matt Damon Won't Direct Movie He Co-Wrote with John Krasinski". The Hollywood Reporter. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/matt-damon-direct-movie-john-krasinski-278781.
  7. ^ Kit, Borys (January 6, 2012). "Gus Van Sant Taking Matt Damon's Place on Dave Eggers Project". The Hollywood Reporter. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/gus-van-sant-matt-damon-dave-eggers-279168.
  8. ^ Weinstein, Joshua L. (February 1, 2012). "Focus Features comes aboard Damon, Krasinski film". Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/02/us-mattdamon-idUSTRE81107220120202.
  9. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (February 1, 2012). "Gus Van Sant/Matt Damon's 'Promised Land' Goes To Focus & Participant". The Playlist (indieWire). http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/gus-van-sant-matt-damon-project-goes-to-focus-participant-rust-and-bone-with-marion-cotillard-lands-at-sony-pictures-classics. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  10. ^ a b Vancheri, Barbara (June 15, 2012). "John Krasinski and Gus Van Sant totally immersed in film shot in Pittsburgh". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/ae/movies/john-krasinski-and-gus-van-sant-totally-immersed-in-film-shot-here-640468/.
  11. ^ Martens, Todd. "Journalist". LA Times. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/music/la-en-danny-elfman-20121206,0,5217607.story. Retrieved 12/6/2012.
  12. ^ Burlingame, Jon (12/12/2012). "Song: In Their Own Words". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118063299/?refcatid=16.
  13. ^ a b Buford, Talia; Martinson, Erica (April 5, 2012). "Matt Damon to star in 'The Promised Land' anti-fracking movie". Politico. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0412/74884.html.
  14. ^ McAleer, Phelim (September 25, 2012). "For his next escape". New York Post. http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/for_his_next_escape_x46uFSONrAaCey67ZzZV0I. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  15. ^ "'Promised Land': Matt Damon's Fracking Film To Highlight Controversial Drilling Process". The Huffington Post. April 6, 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/06/promised-land-matt-damon-fracking_n_1408501.html. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  16. ^ Carney, John (September 28, 2012). "Matt Damon's Anti-Fracking Film Backed by OPEC Member". NetNet (CNBC). http://www.cnbc.com/id/49218229/.
  17. ^ a b Gilbert, Daniel (October 7, 2012). "Matt Damon Fracking Film Lights Up Petroleum Lobby". The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443294904578042620641185816.html. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  18. ^ a b Szalai, George (October 8, 2012). "Energy Industry Targets Upcoming Matt Damon Film 'Promised Land'". The Hollywood Reporter. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/energy-industry-targets-upcoming-matt-377022.
  19. ^ Markay, Lachlan (September 28, 2012). "Matt Damon's Anti-Fracking Movie Financed by Oil-Rich Arab Nation". The Heritage Foundation. http://blog.heritage.org/2012/09/28/matt-damons-anti-fracking-movie-financed-by-oil-rich-arab-nation/. Retrieved October 1, 2012.
  20. ^ Hargreaves, Steve (October 1, 2012). "Matt Damon fracking film backed by big OPEC member". CNN Money (CNN). http://economy.money.cnn.com/2012/10/01/matt-damon-fracking/. Retrieved October 1, 2012.
  21. ^ McNary, Dave (August 23, 2012). "Van Sant's 'Promised Land' to arrive Dec. 28". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118058215.
  22. ^ McClintock, Pamela (December 29, 2012). "Holiday Box Office: 'Django' Narrowly Beats 'Les Mis' on Friday; 'Hobbit' Still No. 1". The Hollywood Reporter. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/holiday-box-office-django-narrowly-407099.
  23. ^ Subers, Ray (December 30, 2012). "Weekend Report: 'Hobbit' Holds Off 'Django' on Final Weekend of 2012". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/news/?id=3597&p=s.htm. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  24. ^ Kaufman, Amy (January 6, 2013). "'Texas Chainsaw 3D' is strong No. 1; 'Promised Land' disappoints". Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-box-office-texas-chainsaw-20130106,0,7343116.story. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  25. ^ Gettell, Olivia (December 28, 2012). "'Promised Land': Drilling drama lacks depth, critics say". The Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-mn-promised-land-movie-reviews-critics-20121228,0,6765373.story.
  26. ^ "Promised Land". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1016837-promised_land/. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
  27. ^ "Promised Land Reviews". Metacritic. http://www.metacritic.com/movie/promised-land. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
  28. ^ Scott, A.O. (28 December 2012). "Promised Land with Matt Damon Directed by Gus Van Sant". New York Times. http://movies.nytimes.com/2012/12/28/movies/promised-land-with-matt-damon-directed-by-gus-van-sant.html?_r=0.
  29. ^ Lacey, Liam (January 4, 2013). "Promised Land: Stellar cast, but the film is a fracking disappointment". Toronto Globe and Mail. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/film/film-reviews/promised-land-stellar-cast-but-the-film-is-a-fracking-disappointment/article6907504/. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  30. ^ Gerhardt, Tina (31 December 2012). The Progressive "Matt Damon Exposes Fracking in Promised Land". http://http://www.progressive.org/matt-damon-exposes-fracking-in-promised-land=The Progressive.

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