Focus Features announced today that production has commenced on the drama Promised Land. The screenplay was written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, based on a story by Dave Eggers, and the project was poised to be Damon’s directorial debut before scheduling issues forced him to vacate the director’s chair. Damon’s Good Will Hunting director Gus Van Sant swooped in and swiftly took over directing duties, and now filming has begun. Focus President Jeb Brody draws some very flattering comparisons when describing the project:
“Matt and John’s script is rich in Frank Capra-esque qualities, blending humor and heart while exploring the power of community in this day and age. An actor’s director like Gus will bring forth all the emotions in the story, which is a true passion project for everyone.”
In addition to Damon and Krasinski, the cast also includes Frances McDormand, Hal Holbrook, Rosemarie DeWitt, Scoot McNairy, and Titus Welliver. Hit the jump to read the press release, which includes a plot synopsis.
NEW YORK, April 24th, 2012 – Gus Van Sant, a two-time Academy Award nominee for Best Director, is directing Promised Land, a contemporary drama from an original screenplay written by John Krasinski and Matt Damon, based on a story by Dave Eggers. Participant Media is co-financing the movie, for which Focus will hold worldwide rights and commence overseas sales at the Cannes International Film Festival in May. Filming begins this week in Pennsylvania for release next winter. Focus president of production Jeb Brody made the announcement today.
Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) is executive-producing Promised Land with Mr. Van Sant and Ron Schmidt (Bandslam). Mr. Damon and Mr. Krasinski are producing 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 (Monsters), Titus Welliver (The Town), and, in her fourth film for Focus, Academy Award winner Frances McDormand. The movie’s crew includes Linus Sandgren (Shelter) as cinematographer, Dan Clancy (The Dilemma) as production designer, and Juliet Polcsa (The Sopranos) as costume designer.
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.
Mr. Krasinski commented, “Matt and I wanted to write a story about American identity. In all of today’s political and economic rhetoric, I feel people often lose sight of the deeper, core principles of what defines us as a country. We knew we needed to find a contemporary issue that would serve as the backdrop to the story but, more importantly, allow us to fully explore this idea.”
Mr. Brody said, “Matt and John’s script is rich in Frank Capra-esque qualities, blending humor and heart while exploring the power of community in this day and age. An actor’s director like Gus will bring forth all the emotions in the story, which is a true passion project for everyone. We’re proud to be making Promised Land with Participant as our creative and financial partner.”
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 Truth; Good 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 Help; Contagion; 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.
In addition to Promised Land, upcoming Focus releases include Moonrise Kingdom, the new feature from Wes Anderson that will world-premiere as the opening-night film of the 2012 Cannes International Film Festival, starring Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Jason Schwartzman; Lorene Scafaria’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley; Sam Fell and Chris Butler’s ParaNorman, the new 3D stop-motion comedy thriller from animation company LAIKA; Jamie Travis’ contemporary comedy For a Good Time, Call…, starring Ari Graynor and Lauren Anne Miller; the untitled international suspense thriller starring Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall for director John Crowley; 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 Johnson.