By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

GUS VAN SANT’S PROMISED LAND, WRITTEN BY & STARRING MATT DAMON AND JOHN KRASINSKI, TO BEGIN THEATRICAL RUN DECEMBER 28, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW YORK, August 23, 2012 – Promised Land, Focus Features’ contemporary drama from two-time Academy Award-nominated director Gus Van Sant, will be released in exclusive engagements in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, December 28, 2012, prior to an expansion in January 2013. The film’s original screenplay was written by John Krasinski and Matt Damon, based on a story by Dave Eggers. Participant Media co-financed the movie, for which Focus holds worldwide rights.

Participant’s Jeff Skoll (The Help) and Jonathan King (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) executive-produced Promised Land with Mr. Van Sant and Ron Schmidt (Won’t Back Down). Mr. Damon and Mr. Krasinski produced the movie with Chris Moore. Mr. Moore co-produced Good Will Hunting, which brought its stars and co-writers, Mr. Damon and Ben Affleck, the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Mr. Van Sant earned his first Oscar nomination for directing Good Will Hunting; his second came for directing Focus’ Milk, which won two Academy Awards. Mr. Krasinski previously starred for Focus in Away We Go, which was co-written by Mr. Eggers. Mr. Damon previously starred for Participant in Contagion.

In addition to Mr. Damon and Mr. Krasinski, the cast of Promised Land includes Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married), Academy Award nominee Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild), Scoot McNairy (of this October’s Killing Them Softly), Titus Welliver (The Town), and, in her fourth film for Focus, Academy Award winner Frances McDormand.

Mr. Damon plays Steve Butler, a corporate salesman who arrives in a rural town with his sales partner, Sue Thomason (Ms. 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 (Mr. Holbrook) with support from a grassroots campaign led by another man (Mr. Krasinski) who counters Steve both personally and professionally.

Participant Media (www.participantmedia.com) is an entertainment company that focuses on documentary and narrative feature films, television, publishing and digital content about the real issues that shape our lives. For each of its projects, Participant creates social action and advocacy programs to transform the impact of the media experience into individual and community action. Participant’s online Social Action Network is TakePart (www.takepart.com). Participant was founded by Chairman Jeff Skoll in 2004; Jim Berk serves as CEO. Participant’s films include The Kite Runner; Charlie Wilson’s War; An Inconvenient TruthGood Night, and Good Luck.; The Visitor; Food, Inc.;The Cove; The Crazies; Countdown to Zero; Waiting for “Superman;” Fair Game; PAGE ONE: Inside The New York Times; The HelpContagion; The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; and Last Call at the Oasis.

Focus Features and Focus Features International (www.focusfeatures.com) comprise a singular global company. This worldwide studio makes original and daring films that challenge the mainstream to embrace and enjoy voices and visions from around the world that deliver global commercial success. The company operates as Focus Features in North America, and as Focus Features International (FFI) in the rest of the world; and is celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2012.

In addition to Promised Land, current and upcoming Focus Features releases include Moonrise Kingdom, the hit movie from Wes Anderson; Sam Fell and Chris Butler’s ParaNorman, the new 3D stop-motion comedy thriller from animation company LAIKA; Jamie Travis’ contemporary comedyFor a Good Time, Call…, starring Ari Graynor and Lauren Anne Miller; Closed Circuit, the suspense thriller directed by John Crowley and starring Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall; Paul Weitz’s comedy/drama Admission, starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd; the historical tale Hyde Park on Hudson, directed by Roger Michell and starring Academy Award nominees Bill Murray and Laura Linney; and Joe Wright’s epic love story Anna Karenina, starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

Focus Features and Focus Features International are part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. Comcast Corporation owns a controlling 51% interest in NBCUniversal, with GE holding a 49% stake.

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“The worst thing that we have in today’s movie culture is Rotten Tomatoes. It’s the destruction of our business. I have such respect and admiration for film criticism. When I was growing up film criticism was a real art. And there was intellect that went into that. And you would read Pauline’s Kael’s reviews, or some others, and that doesn’t exist anymore. Now it’s about a number. A compounded number of how many positives vs. negatives. Now it’s about, ‘What’s your Rotten Tomatoes score?’ And that’s sad, because the Rotten Tomatoes score was so low on Batman v Superman I think it put a cloud over a movie that was incredibly successful. People don’t realize what goes into making a movie like that. It’s mind-blowing. It’s just insane, it’s hurting the business, it’s getting people to not see a movie. In Middle America it’s, ‘Oh, it’s a low Rotten Tomatoes score so I’m not going to go see it because it must suck.’ But that number is an aggregate and one that nobody can figure out exactly what it means, and it’s not always correct. I’ve seen some great movies with really abysmal Rotten Tomatoes scores. What’s sad is film criticism has disappeared. It’s really sad.”
~ Brett Ratner Has A Sad

“The loss of a local newspaper critic is a real loss. People who know the local audience and know the local cultural scene are very important resources. You can’t just substitute the stuff that comes in from nowhere through syndication or the wire. I think at the same time, some of the newer outlets have really beefed up and improved their coverage and made room for criticism. The real problem is in the more specialized art forms — fine arts, classical music, dance and jazz, say. There is a real slowing of critical voices, partly because those art forms have smaller audiences. Newspapers and magazines can say that doesn’t get enough traffic, so we don’t have room for that. To me, that’s especially worrisome. This is the opposite of what newspapers are supposed to do, which is not to try to figure out what people are already interested in and recite that back to them, but to hopefully guide them to something that they should be interested in, connecting potential audiences with more interesting work.

“Then again, not everyone needs a critic. People have been going to movies for more than 100 years now, and probably the vast majority of those people have not read movie reviews or cared what critics thought. But there has always been an important subset that wants to know more, that wants to think about what they’ve seen and what they’re going to see, and wants someone to think along with. I think critics are important, not just as dispensers of consumer advice — though that’s certainly part of it, too — but as trusted voices and companions for people to argue with in your head when you’re going to movies or afterwards.”
~ A. O. Scott