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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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Tsangari: With my next film, White Knuckles, it comes with a budget — it’s going to be a huge new world for me. As always when I enter into a new thing, don’t you wonder how it’s going to be and how much of yourself you are going to have to sacrifice? The ballet of all of this. I’m already imaging the choreography — not of the camera, but the choreography of actually bringing it to life. It is as fascinating as the shooting itself. I find the producing as exciting as the directing. The one informs the other. There is this producer-director hat that I constantly wear. I’ve been thinking about these early auteurs, like Howard Hawks and John Ford and Preston Sturges—all of these guys basically were hired by the studio, and I doubt they had final cut, and somehow they had films that now we can say they had their signatures.  There are different ways of being creative within the parameters and limitations of production. The only thing you cannot negotiate is stupidity.
Filmmaker: And unfortunately, there is an abundance of that in the world.
Tsangari: This is the only big risk: stupidity. Everything else is completely worked out in the end.
~ Chevalier‘s Rachel Athina Tsangari

“The middle-range movies that I was doing have largely either stopped being made, or they’ve moved to television, now that television is a go-to medium for directors who can’t get work in theatricals, because there are so few theatricals being made. But also with the new miniseries concept, you can tell a long story in detail without having to cram it all into 90 minutes. You don’t have to cut the characters and take out the secondary people. You can actually put them all on a big canvas. And it is a big canvas, because people have bigger screens now, so there’s no aesthetic difference between the way you shoot a movie and the way you shoot a TV show.

“Which is all for the good. But what’s happened in the interim is that theatrical movies being a spectacle business are now either giant blockbuster movies that run three hours—even superhero movies run three hours, they used to run like 58 minutes!—and the others, which are dysfunctional family independent movies or the slob comedy or the kiddie movie, and those are all low-budget. So the middle ground of movies that were about things, they’re just gone. Or else they’re on HBO. Like the Bryan Cranston LBJ movie, which years ago would’ve been made for theaters.

“You’ve got people like Paul Schrader and Walter Hill who can’t get their movies theatrically distributed because there’s no market for it. So they end up going to VOD, and VOD is a model from which no one makes any money, because most of the time, as soon as they get on the site, they’re pirated. So the whole model of the system right now is completely broken. And whether or not anybody’s going to try to fix, or if it even can be fixed, I don’t know. But it’s certainly not the same business that I got into in the ’70s.”
~ Joe Dante

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