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. Jeb 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."