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CAA Signs ‘Promised Land’s Rosemarie DeWitt

By | Tuesday March 5, 2013 @ 12:12pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: CAA has just signed actress Rosemarie DeWitt. DeWitt, who just played Matt Damon’s love interest in the Gus Van Sant-directed Promised Land, had her breakout role as the bride in Rachel Getting Married. She also starred in Your Sister’s Sister and AMC’s Mad Men.

DeWitt, who had been at ICM, continues to be managed by Troy Nankin at Wishlab Inc., and attorney Melanie Cook.

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Berlin: Matt Damon On ‘Promised Land’s Performance & ‘Argo’s Oscar Chances

Matt Damon was in town today in support of Promised Land, which has its international premiere here in competition. He was flanked by director Gus Van Sant and co-star and co-writer John Krasinski at a press conference where he spoke candidly about the film, noting his disappointment that it didn’t perform better in the U.S. When asked about the petroleum industry’s pre-emptively negative reaction to the film that deals with the controversial issue of fracking, Damon said, “People were expecting a certain kind of movie to attack and then waited to see how well it did. When the movie didn’t perform particularly well, they kind of just let it go.” Then he laughed and added, “The biggest attack we got was from critics.” The movie debuted in late December and took about $8M domestically. Damon said he hopes the film will still hit a mark with audiences (it rolls out overseas from next week). “It didn’t get the reception I would have hoped for, but it exists and it will exist… I’ve had movies bomb worse than this one and then make their money back later.” Even though he’s had “a lot of movies not well received by critics or audiences” he added, “this one, I really love it. It’s in my heart and I don’t understand what I’m hearing back.”

The actor is looking forward to returning to Berlin next month to start work on the George Clooney-directed The Monuments Men – (“Everyone else is so excited because George Clooney will be with me”) – but he said he wished the city had “the international airport it deserves.” A bugaboo for visitors from the U.S. is that the airport here doesn’t have direct connections to many non-European cities and Damon had to transfer through Frankfurt to arrive on Thursday. “As someone who loves coming here and loves working here, I would love to fly direct.” Read More »

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OSCARS: An “Uphill Climb” For ‘Promised Land’

By | Thursday January 3, 2013 @ 10:20pm PST

Ari Karpel is an AwardsLine contributor.

Matt Damon and John Krasinski are well aware that Promised Land is facing what Damon deems “an uphill climb.” The film, about a community confronting the rock-and-hard-place decision of whether to frack or not to frack—that is, whether to allow a major corporation to come in and drill for natural gas in exchange for millions of dollars and, potentially, the townspeople’s physical health—faces a marketing challenge that teeters on the same fine line Damon and Krasinski walked while writing its screenplay.

“It’s a minefield,” says Damon, mindful of the taint that can adhere to a movie thought of as “an issue movie.” “You can’t get too heavy-handed, and it can’t feel like it’s some polemic.”

And yet that hardly compares to the ups and downs he and Krasinski faced in getting the movie off the ground.

It all started with Krasinski, who wanted to write a screenplay about “some sort of abuse of power in…the green energy movement.” The actor, best known as Jim Halpert on The Office, had previously written and directed 2009’s Brief Interviews With Hideous Men and starred in Away We Go, written by Dave Eggers, who also consulted on the film. “I brought it to Dave because these are issues close to his heart, too,” Krasinski says. They hashed out characters and a story, set against the backdrop of the wind-farming industry. (Eggers has a “story by” credit.) Read More »

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Specialty Preview: ‘The Impossible’, ‘Promised Land’, ‘Hyde Park On Hudson’ Hope To Gain Momentum

Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

The first weekend of 2013 has barely any new specialty releases. One exception is Magnolia Pictures’ action-thriller A Dark Truthdirected by Damian Lee and starring Andy Garcia, Kim Coates and Deborah Kara Unger, will have a limited opening in Miami. Post-holiday attention on limited releases will focus on holdovers and expansions, including Lionsgate-Summit’s The Impossible, Focus Features’ Promised Land and Hyde Park On Hudson, and The Weinstein Company’s Silver Linings Playbook, and others.

The Naomi Watts-Ewan McGregor starrer The Impossible had a relatively meager start, averaging $8,250 in 15 locations two weekends ago, but it managed a rare feat last weekend increasing its average to $12,300 in the same 15 theaters. The film about a family caught in the South Asian tsumami has grossed an additional $145,721 in the same cinemas Monday through Wednesday ahead of its hefty expansion into 572 locations beginning Friday. Read More »

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Specialty B.O.: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, ‘Amour’ Stellar In 2nd Weekend; ‘West Of Memphis’ OK In Debut, ‘Promised Land’ Soft

By | Sunday December 30, 2012 @ 10:24am PST

Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

Sony/Columbia Pictures’ limited-run engagement of Zero Dark Thirty showed impressive stamina, and the studio’s specialty market distributor Sony Pictures Classics also had great news for Amour but not so great news for newcommer West Of Memphis in three-day estimates for the pre-New Year’s weekend, while Focus Features debut Promised Land bowed modestly. Columbia Pictures’ Zero Dark Thirty averaged a muscular $65K per location in its sophomore weekend in 5 theaters compared with $82K per cinema last weekend. Sony Classics’ Palme d’Or winner and Oscar short-listed foreign-language hopeful Amour held steady in three theaters in its second weekend, averaging a very strong $20K vs. its $23,554 average debut. Specialty market newcomers Promised Land, starring Matt Damon, John Krasinski and Frances McDormand headed into 25 theaters, averaging $7,606, while Sony Classics’ doc West Of Memphis managed a slender $2,771 per run in 5 cinemas. SPC’s other non-fiction offering Searching For Sugar Man, now in its 23rd weekend of release, passed the $3 million milestone this weekend. An additional newcomer, Adopt Films’ Tabu, took in $5,300 in one theater. Read More »

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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Promised Land’, ‘West Of Memphis’, ‘Allegiance’, ‘Tabu’

By | Friday December 28, 2012 @ 5:32pm PST

Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

Matt Damon and Gus Van Sant collaborate on their third project together, Promised Land, headlining the holiday weekend’s specialty releases and the final round of newcomers for 2012.  Van Sant came in as director after Damon tapped him to spearhead the film, which is set in small town Pennsylvania. Also headed to theaters is Sony Pictures ClassicsWest Of Memphis, the latest film centered on the so-called Memphis Three who many believe were wrongly convicted of a grisly murder in a notorious miscarriage of justice. The military takes the spotlight in Allegiance with Aidan Quinn and Bow Wow, which opens via XLrator Media and Adopt Films opens its foreign-language Berlin ’12 pick-up Tabu.

Promised Land
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writers: John Krasinski, Matt Damon, Dave Eggers (story)
Cast: Matt Damon, Frances McDormand, John Krasinski, Hal Holbrook, Rosemarie DeWitt
Distributor: Focus Features

Focus Features came on board with Promised Land after the script was completed in partnership with Participant Media. The story moved from an Alaska mining operation backdrop to a small town in Pennsylvania, which must choose whether to allow an energy company to extract natural gas through the controversial method popularly known as “fracking.” Matt Damon originally was set to direct the film but his schedule made it impossible. He reached out to Gus Van Sant with whom he worked with on Good Will Hunting and Gerry to take on the project. Read More »

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Berlin Film Festival Unveils First Competition Titles; DreamWorks Animation’s ‘The Croods’ Gets Out-Of-Competition World Premiere

By | Thursday December 13, 2012 @ 3:31am PST

The Berlin Film Festival has named the first titles slotted to compete at the 63rd running of the event in February. They include the world premiere of the latest film in Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise series and the international premiere of Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land with, and written by, Matt Damon and John Krasinski. DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods will also get a world premiere, out of competition. This year’s fest runs February 7-17. The full list is below and includes the first Berlinale Special selection:

Competition
Gloria
Chile/Spain
By Sebastián Lelio
With Paulina García, Sergio Hernández
World premiere

Nugu-ui Ttal-do Anin (Nobody’s Daughter Haewon)
Republic of Korea
By Hong Sangsoo
With Eunchae Jung, Sunkyun Lee
World premiere

Paradies: Hoffnung (Paradise: Hope)
Austria/France/Germany
By Ulrich Seidl
With Melanie Lenz, Vivian Bartsch, Joseph Lorenz, Michael Thomas
World premiere
Read More »

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Fleming Q&A’s Matt Damon/John Krasinski: ‘Promised Land’; A Bat Stamp On ‘Bourne 4’; Ending ‘The Office’; Cheating On Affleck

By | Monday December 10, 2012 @ 8:27am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Even before Focus Features made Promised Land a late Oscar entry, the film’s writer-stars Matt Damon and John Krasinski came under fire from the energy industry. Their film deals with “fracking,” which mixes chemicals, sand, water and drilling to loosen underground shale deposits to harvest natural energy. Damon and Fran McDormand play gas company reps using the lure of potential riches to convince struggling farmers to allow fracking on their lands, despite the risks for their crops and livestock. Krasinski plays a grassroots activist fighting the reps as the town prepares to vote. Promised Land reunites Damon with Gus Van Sant, who directed Good Will Hunting, which brought Oscars and fame to Boston neophyte scribes Damon and Ben Affleck. Damon and Krasinski are fun guys, the type who’d be a blast to invite over to watch football…as long as you aren’t a fan of the New York Giants and the two Super Bowls they won over the New England Patriots.

DEADLINE: Matt, you’ve said recently that the Bourne Legacy spinoff didn’t make it any easier for Jason Bourne to return. What has to happen for us to see your signature character back onscreen?

DAMON: Just a couple things, really. Paul Greengrass has to want to do it, and secondly and equally important, it comes down to Paul and I knowing what the hell we want to do. We just don’t have a story, and we haven’t had one. I quietly went to Jonah Nolan, because he and his brother Chris did such a brilliant job on Batman and that whole mythology. I just said, can you put your brain on this? I can’t figure it out. And he took a run at it and he couldn’t crack it either. Paul and I have been talking about it for years. And we can’t quite see what the movie would be. If we could get line of sight on that…

DEADLINE: We are force-fed so many unnecessary sequels, and here is a smart thriller that we actually want to see more of…

DAMON: Neither of us is against it. I would love to do another one. I love that character. To me, the reason to make that movie is because people want to see it. Paul and I have said that to each other. We don’t take for granted the fact that we’ve built an audience for Bourne, that’s a real privilege. But our part of that bargain is that the movie is good and belongs with the other three. Until we can deliver that, we just can’t make it.

DEADLINE: I watched last week as Brad Pitt’s bankability got questioned after Killing Them Softly tanked. How much do stars like you and Brad worry about taking on projects like that or Promised Land? You see them as specialty pictures made at a price, but if they fail, they go down in the loss column.

DAMON: Some actors don’t make these movies for exactly that reason. I couldn’t bear to have a career like that. These are exactly the kind of movies I like to go see. That might put me in the minority of the movie-going public, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t make them. In writing Promised Land, John and I talked a lot about films like Local Hero and The Verdict, a movie I absolutely love. I don’t know what that movie would do today, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to be in The Verdict.

DEADLINE: How helpful then are hits like Bourne

DAMON: It’s always nice when one hits. It buys you relevance in the industry for a couple years and gives you cover to do these other things. But I would never just protect my beach head. That would be a career built out of fear and I won’t live that way. I want to challenge myself in different genres, playing different characters, and I don’t want to get pigeonholed and forced to do the same things. If Promised Land does not do a lot of business, it’s not going to end my career. But I am mindful like we all are that you don’t get to keep doing this if your movies don’t perform at the box office.

DEADLINE: John, how hard is it for you to end your long run on The Office?

KRASINSKI: It’s as hard as it gets, to be honest. This is so much more for me than just ending a television series. I was a waiter when I got the job. No one would know my name if it wasn’t for this job and I certainly wouldn’t have gotten the career opportunities. To be part of something special enough to have a final season rather than just getting canned is an honor. The show is everything to me. By the end of whatever career I have, there’s a part of me that will always be defined by this show and I’m supremely honored that is the case. I got this job when I was 23 and now I’m 33 and that’s a pretty important decade to spend on one project with one group of people. This is the most important thing I’ve ever done, the proudest thing I have. I will never forget a minute of it nor would I take back a second of it. Read More »

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Focused On ‘Promised Land’: Will 2012′s Last Film Be A Major Contender?

Pete Hammond

Not to be outdone by aggressive campaigning from its rivals, Focus Features this week moved boldly ahead with an Oscar campaign plan on two fronts for Friday’s release of Anna Kareninawhich had its L.A. premiere last night, and its late-breaking December 28th entry, Promised Land, which is launching its awards bid with some private screenings for some very big heavy hitters.

Regarding the latter film, what do you do when you are the very last major movie of the year? Director Gus Van Sant only delivered the final cut of the film in the past two weeks, and knowing they are under the gun in getting this one seen in time for the earlier Academy voting (now taking place ten days earlier than usual with ballots in the mail December 17 and due back January 3rd), Focus is trying to get the word out within the industry. So before even showing it to most of the press they began an early “influencer” campaign that has featured private screenings and receptions at the plush theatre inside L.A.’s Soho House. Tuesday night Cameron Crowe held one with guests including Meryl Streep, Sam Mendes, Colin Firth, Kate Hudson, Ben Affleck (coming over after getting his GQ man of the year award) and other academy voters who were able to mingle with star and co-writer (with John Krasinski) Matt Damon. Earlier in November Aaron Sorkin hosted a similar screening that drew Demi Moore, Jennifer Aniston and SAG President Ken Howard among others. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Promised Land’

By | Friday September 21, 2012 @ 12:34pm PDT

Promised Land reteams Gus Van Sant and his Good Will Hunting star Matt Damon in a story about a natural gas conglomerate that descends on a small farming town. Damon and Frances McDormand are the company’s point people who run into plenty of problems once they arrive. John Krasinski, Rosemarie DeWitt and Hal Holbrook co-star. Damon and Krasinski co-wrote the script based on a Dave Eggers story. Focus Features is releasing this one in an Oscar-qualifying run December 28 before expanding in January.

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Focus Features Puts Gus Van Sant-Matt Damon Pic ‘Promised Land’ Into Oscar Race

By | Thursday August 23, 2012 @ 12:51pm PDT
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: In a surprise move that adds another intriguing film to Oscar season, Focus Features has committed to release in a qualifying two city run Promised Land, the Gus Van Sant-directed film that stars Matt Damon and John Krasinski, both of whom wrote the script. The film will be released in exclusive engagements in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, December 28th, 2012, prior to an expansion in January. The film, based on a story by Dave Eggers, also stars Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married), Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild), Scoot McNairy (Killing Them Softly), Titus Welliver (The Town), and Oscar winner Frances McDormand. Participant Media co-financed the movie, for which Focus holds worldwide rights.

Damon plays Steve Butler, a corporate salesman who arrives in a rural town with his sales partner, Sue Thomason (McDormand). With the town having been hit hard by the economic decline of recent years, the two outsiders see the local citizens as likely to accept their company’s offer, for drilling rights to their properties, as much-needed relief. What seems like an easy job for the duo becomes complicated by the objection of a respected schoolteacher (Holbrook) with support from a grassroots campaign led by another man (Krasinski) who counters Steve both personally and professionally.

Damon and Krasinski produced the film with Chris Moore, the latter of whom teamed with Damon and Van Sant on Good Will Read More »

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Lucas Black Joins ‘Promised Land’ And ’42′

By | Monday May 21, 2012 @ 9:30am PDT
Mike Fleming

Lucas Black Pee Wee ReeseLucas Black has joined the cast of the Gus Van Sant-directed Promised Land for Focus Features. He’ll also play a role in the Brian Helgeland-directed 42 for Warner Bros. In Promised Land, Black plays a land owner who gets cheated and exploited when his land is leased. In 42, Black plays shortstop Pee Wee Reese, who, from the moment Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers and broke the color barrier, embraced the rookie and stood by his side. ICM-repped Black was last seen with Robert Duvall in Seven Days In Utopia.

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Rosemarie DeWitt Joins Matt Damon And John Krasinski In ‘Promised Land’

By | Friday March 9, 2012 @ 11:45am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Rosemarie DeWitt will play the female lead in Promised Land, the Focus Features/Participant Media film that Gus Van Sant will direct with Matt Damon and John Krasinski starring. Damon and Krasinski wrote the script. The film, which got a first draft from Dave Eggers when its title was Gold Mist, is a Capraesque tale in which Damon and Krasinski play rival corporate executives. Damon plays a sales executive who arrives in a small town only to have his whole life called into question. Chris Moore is producing.

DeWitt starred with Emily Blunt in Your Sister’s Sister, which gets released in June, and Neighborhood Watch, which will be released in July. She’s repped by ICM and Troy Nankin.

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