Next month Focus Features releases Matt Damon’s new movie and the oil and gas industry is worried sick about it.
The movie, Promised Land, is about a Pennsylvania farm town deciding whether to go forward with shale gas drilling after a team of landmen arrives in the area.
Damon plays one of these landman, who rolls into town presenting himself as a humble flannel-wearing farmboy from Iowa. Damon’s character is an ace salesman, famously good at convincing homeowners to sign away the rights to their land. But halfway through the story, he starts having ethical pangs about his profession. Damon’s internal conflicts grow deeper as he grows closer to locals.
By Hollywood standards, it’s a small film, with a budget of $15 million. The script was written by Damon and co-star John Krasinski (best known for his role as Jim in “The Office”) and is based on a story by Dave Eggers.
The drilling industry is none too pleased about the movie’s at-times unflattering portrayal of landmen and it has already geared up its attack machine to aggressively respond.
The irony here, of course, is that the industry’s plan for taking on the movie runs parallel at times to the movie itself. It a case where art imitates life imitates art.
I will come back to this. But first, meet Mike Knapp.