The new movie “Promised Land,” which Matt Damon co-wrote and co-produced, came in under budget and ahead of schedule because it had a script, the actor and Oscar-winning screenwriter said Tuesday night in New York. The talk was distributed on the Internet through Livestream.
Damon, who discussed the film along with co-star and co-producer John Krasinski of the NBC sitcom “The Office” and director Gus Van Sant, contrasted that to his last Jason Bourne movie, which he said they were writing day to day while they were shooting it. “It took years off our lives. It was so much pressure because you’re so aware of how much money … once you get on set, the money is just burning.”
He added, “(Director) Paul Greengrass and I would say like we’re in the wrong country. … It was 4 in the morning and we’re on a street and I’m going, Is there anything else we can shoot in Spain?”
Damon said watching “The Bourne Legacy,” the fourth movie in the series based on Robert Ludlum’s novels and the only one in\which he did not appear, was “very odd.” “It had a lot of same bells and whistles of the Bourne series but I didn’t know anything about it.”
That movie made it less likely that Damon will appear in another movie about the assassin with amnesia though “I don’t think it makes it impossible,” he said.
Damon said “Promised Land,” which opens in New York on Dec. 28 and nationwide Jan. 4, was made for slightly less than $18 million. It deals with the controversial procedure of capturing natural gas called fracking.
A nice article from ComingSoon.net
As we mentioned in our Gotham Awards coverage, this is the week when Focus Features is stepping up their game to get word out on Matt Damon and John Krasinski’s Promised Land, directed by Gus Van Sant. Earlier today, ComingSoon.net was one of a couple dozen journalists invited to a special luncheon at midtown New York’s prestigious Aquavit restaurant, specializing in Swedish cuisine and famous for kicking off the career of superstar chef Marcus Samuelsson. Damon, Krasinski and Van Sant were all on hand to field questions and talk about their movie in between bites.
Our positive review of the movie is still under embargo, but the film has Matt Damon playing the salesman for a natural gas company who comes to a small town along with a co-worker, played by Frances McDormand, with the intention of leasing land from the local farmers where they can extract natural gas. Along comes an activist named Dustin, played by Krasinski, who throws a monkey wrench in their progress at convincing the locals to sign contracts, and that’s where the film gets interesting.
Damon met Krasinski when he was working with his future wife Emily Blunt on The Adjustment Bureau in New York and they began working on the script together two years ago after author Dave Eggers helped Krasinski develop the story but then had to go off and write his own book.
The film was shot earlier this year outside of Pittsburgh in a small town much like the one in the film and during his time at our table, Krasinski talked to us about how his father’s own small town experiences inspired him to write the screenplay and how freaked out he got when his father visited the set and started pointing out places where they spent time in his youth.
Krasinski also told us an amazing story about his early years as an actor in New York and how he was almost ready to give up when he traveled to Los Angeles and two weeks later booked the pilot of “The Office.” The rest as they say is history.
All three mentioned how the films of Frank Capra and Elia Kazan were hugely influential on the writing process and the feel of the film, and they’re trying hard not to focus too much on the political side of the story and how “fracking” for natural gas has become a huge political and environmental issue in recent years.
When Matt Damon came over to our table, we spoke with him about the process of writing Promised Land with Krasinski and how that differed from writing Good Will Hunting with Ben Affleck over 15 years ago while they were both struggling actors. He told us how neither of them had any formal education on how to write a screenplay.
Damon complimented Krasinski on the speed at which his brain worked in terms of trying to figure out the mechanics of the screenplay and we heard some amazing stories from both of them about their co-stars, Frances McDormand and Scoot McNairy.
Krasinski was really impressed by what McDormand brought to her role, seemingly without even trying, although she did tell them at the very beginning of the project that she wouldn’t do any press. It’s a shame since it might be her best performance since the Coens’ Fargo, for which she won her Oscar.
McNairy’s audition so impressed the three of them that they changed one of the characters in order to give him a speech. The speech McNairy gives in the film was originally going to be performed by an older actor whose son went to war in Afghanistan, but after seeing his audition, they changed the role for McNairy. Apparently, McNairy did a reading on camera for Van Sant and after it was over, he started talking about his wife and her own struggles with the subject of the movie. Van Sant started rolling tape again to capture the emotion in McNairy’s story, and the part was changed for him. McNairy is having a bit of a moment, appearing not only in this movie but also Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly, opening this weekend, and Ben Affleck’s Argo.
Krasinski also told us how he was crushed when right before last Christmas, Damon decided not to direct the film himself after they had all the pieces in places to go into production, but having to go right into pre-production in January would have kept Damon away from his family for too long.
Director Gus Van Sant filled in the rest of the story, telling us how he came on board in the project’s hour of need when Matt texted him asking if he would read the script and he sent it right over in PDF form before boarding a plane, and Van Sant decided to do it. Van Sant talked about some of his sound design and production decisions and how his style has changed from ten years ago when he made Elephant.
Since this was a fairly informal luncheon, we also talked about more esoteric New Yorker topics like the new Barclay Center in Brooklyn (thumbs up from Matt!), living on the Upper East Side (Krasinski and a couple other journalists, not us) and such. Even though both actors are from Boston, they both try to spend as much time in the city as possible.
Hopefully we’ll have more formal interviews with actual quotes from the trio sometime leading up to Promised Land’s release in New York and L.A. on December 28 and wide release on January 4, 2013.
In “Promised Land,” you get a chance to see Matt’s inherent likability. Some actors have that quality, some don’t. And that likability is necessary to play this kind of scam artist and still be as caring as you are for his trip.
His face is an open book from the first frame when he’s washing his face and he’s tormented and nervous about what’s to come. He handles it without pushing. And he ends the picure with a final speech before the town, telling them the entire truth and what’s he’s been involved with. It’s emotional and powerful without being pushed.
In some ways, Matt is like John Wayne, who had that inherent feeling of trust. Which you also get from Matt. There’s a direct truthfulness there that a lot of actors don’t have. They have to get tricky. Matt has this inherent shit detector. He’s a very good listener, but he also has the ability to handle lengthy dialogue, which is becoming a relatively lost art in film.
He produced this picture and wrote it, and from my own experience with doing dual roles, it never gets in the way for him. Matt has enough knowledge as a writer and producer to surround himself with the best people possible. He’s not threatened by talent. He enjoys it.
Promised Land opens on: December 28, 2012, on a limited release and wide release on January 4, 2013.
Here’s the trailer:
In August, Focus Features surprised many Oscar prognosticators by setting “Promised Land” for release on Dec. 28. The decision could make the new drama a major awards player, if only because of its pedigree: Matt Damon and John Krasinski wrote the screenplay (from a story by Dave Eggers) and Gus Van Sant directs. The first film co-written by Damon and a fellow actor that Van Sant directed was “Good Will Hunting.” (The pair, along with Casey Affleck, also collaborated on “Gerry,” but you can forget about that one for now.)
For those still not convinced of “Promised Land’s” Oscar bona fides, Focus has released a new trailer for the film that manages to both highlight the human drama and timeliness of its story. Damon stars as a natural gas company salesman who tries to convince the denizens of a rural town to sell their farms for the purposes of fracking. Some agree, but not Krasinski, playing a well-meaning farmer, nor Hal Holbrook’s wizened town elder, a role that many are marking for an Oscar nomination.
Whether “Promised Land” makes a big push for Oscar is obviously to be determined, but the film — which combines elements of “Good Will Hunting,” “Michael Clayton” and “Erin Brockovich” — should certainly be an audience favorite, especially if this new trailer is any indication. Watch above, or head over to Apple to check out “Promised Land” in HD.
Matt’s new movie project is “Promised Land” could be hitting theaters this year! Here’s the article from IndieWire:
Could Gus Van Sant and Matt Damon be headed back to the Oscars? That could be the case if word on their latest collaboration, “Promised Land,” bears out.
The folks over at The Film Stage picked up on a recent feature article on the film in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that dropped a handful of interesting nuggets about the upcoming movie, which was co-written by and co-stars John Krasinksi alongside a cast that includes Frances McDormand, Hal Hobrook, Rosemarie Dewitt, Scoot McNairy and Titus Welliver. Perhaps the biggest bit of info is that Krasinski reveals the movie could be in “a small number of theaters” by the end of the year. Van Sant had already put together an assembly cut during filming, and “is editing the movie and will huddle with his fellow producers and others at summer’s end and tweak the movie through the fall.” Putting those small clues together, our guess is that “Promised Land” will have some kind of awards consideration run, before a wider release in 2013. As for a festival appearance in the fall? We reckon it’s a possibility.
As for the film itself, it will find Damon playing 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 economic decline in 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. As you might guess from that logline, there is an environmental angle at play, and early on, there was one word around the interwebs that the movie was an “anti-fracking” screed (fracking is essentially the process by which water and chemicals are blasted to separate rock layers to extract gas and oil). But not so, says Krasinski.
“Fracking for us became a backdrop. The original script was about wind power,” he explains adding about the rumors, “The idea of fracking or natural gas was just a very apropos news story that was beginning to grow a year and a half ago. I just chose that as the background and, of course, that has grown into something quite wild in and of itself.”
So what will the film address thematically? “I don’t want to give too much away, but the situation people are in financially is very, very real. And what they’re protecting is a community and a lifestyle that they believe very, very strongly in,” he explains. “So, for some of the characters in the movie, it’s a choice to give up everything that they are and everything that they have come from, in order for a quick paycheck, which I think is in keeping with a lot of the different opportunities that are going on in the country today, whether it’s the derivative market or anything else.”
In short, the film is more about the values of America today and how they’ve shifted from our parents’ generation, something that Krasinski remembers his father recollecting. The “way he described his upbringing and the country and the community that he grew up in, and how everything was incredibly honorable and loyal and incredibly rather simple in the best way — going to work, having family, having friends, and taking care of what you needed to take care of, and there wasn’t really much else. And someone’s word was as valuable as anything else,” he shares.
Sounds like the kind of big, broad ideas that Oscar loves and with Van Sant at the helm, a script from Damon and Kraskinski and a pretty compelling cast, this one is inching up our list of anticipated movies for 2012. Hopefully we’ll know more soon, but this could be a dark horse for the end of the year.
Looks like the Matt Damon & John Krasinki film now has a title: Promised Land. Matt was initially set to direct it, but due to schedule conflicts, he’ll just star on it. Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting) is set to direct it. Here is the article from Deadline:
I’m told that Focus Features and Participant Media won a bidding battle for the untitled film that Gus Van Sant will direct with Matt Damon and John Krasinski starring, from the script those actors co-wrote. Focus and Participant are tying down the details. You’ll recall that Damon planned to make his directing debut on the film, but when his schedule made that impossible, he and producer Chris Moore brought it to their Good Will Hunting director Van Sant, who signed on. 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. Moore, Damon and Krasinski will produce and production begins in April.
When Damon was directing, the film had been set up at Warner Bros through the production shingle that Damon has there with Ben Affleck. It’s a $15 million budget, and it seems better placed at Focus and Participant, which are teaming up for the first time.
Krasinski had the idea for a film that had resonance in the current climate of economic hardship caused by corporate greed. Krasinski paid Eggers out of his own pocket to write the first draft, then showed it to Damon and Moore while the latter were making The Adjustment Bureau, which starred Damon and Krasinski’s wife, Emily Blunt. Eggers was unavailable to do more work on the script, so Damon and Kraskinski rewrote it together.