A salesman for a natural gas company experiences life-changing events after arriving in a small town, where his corporation wants to tap into the available resources.


Gus Van Sant


John Krasinski (screenplay), Matt Damon (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
3 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Matt Damon ... Steve Butler
Benjamin Sheeler ... Attendant
Terry Kinney ... David Churchill
Carla Bianco Carla Bianco ... Waitress
Joe Coyle ... Michael Downey
Hal Holbrook ... Frank Yates
Dorothy Silver ... Arlene
Frances McDormand ... Sue Thomason
Titus Welliver ... Rob
Lexi Cowan ... Drew's Girl
Tim Guinee ... Drew Scott
Sara Lindsey ... Claire Allen
Frank Conforti ... Coach
Garrett Ashbaugh Garrett Ashbaugh ... Basketball Player
Jericho Morgan Jericho Morgan ... Jericho (as Jerico Morgan)


Corporate salesman Steve Butler (Matt Damon) arrives in a rural town with his sales partner, Sue Thomason (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 (Holbrook) with support from a grassroots campaign led by another man (Krasinski) who counters Steve both personally and professionally. Written by Focus Features

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


What's your price?



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The high school gym shown at various points in the movie is actually the "Tiger Gym" located in downtown Apollo, PA. The Tiger Gym was formerly Apollo's high school, until the new one was built in Spring Church. Since then it has become a popular gym in the area. See more »


The brochure and poster talk about how fracking by the company, "Global..." will 'effect' (noun) the community; the correct spelling/usage is 'affect' (verb). "Effect" can also be a verb meaning produce, as in "effect a change"; and "affect" can be a noun meaning emotion, as in "affect was flat". See more »


Frank Yates: I guess I'm lucky - lucky to be old enough to have a shot at dying with my dignity.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Through most of the end credits, the camera zooms out to a wide shot of the town where the film takes place. See more »


Referenced in Life Itself (2014) See more »


I Saw the Light
Written by Hank Williams
Performed by Frances McDormand (uncredited)
See more »

User Reviews

Pastoral America and the search for natural energy
8 November 2014 | by SimonJackSee all my reviews

"Promised Land" is a movie for the present time in America. Natural gas, oil shale, oil and related explorations are becoming more common. The world's consumption of oil continues to leapfrog, as more and more one- time third world countries acquire some affluence. Energy prices continue to work their way up. Sources of natural energy that once were far too expensive to produce, now become economical. At the same times, many small farm communities continue to shrink, and most become poorer with few jobs and businesses to support the dwindling farm populations.

Into this setting, "Promised Land" gives us a story of two employees who move into a rural community to buy up the leases for natural gas exploration and possible production. It's a story about people doing their job in earnest, and about the people of a small town. The town is in rural Pennsylvania, but it could be anywhere in rural America. – as Matt Damon's character, Steve Butler says. And, the people of this community must weigh the promise of prosperity against unknown possible negative effects on their natural surroundings from drilling. There is an interesting twist in this story that comes out at the end.

The cast are all quite good. Besides Damon, Frances McDormand co-stars as his sidekick employee, Sue Thompson. John Krasinski is very smooth and believable as Dustin Noble. Rosemarie DeWitt plays Alice, the fifth- grade school teacher. Titus Welliver is Rob, the local guns and grocery story owner. Hal Holbrook, at 88 years of age, is the retired MIT scientist and volunteer high school teacher, Frank Yates. And, the many town folk who are extras add nicely to this story.

The scenic shots are something right out of Norman Rockwell's pastoral America. Damon and Krasinski wrote the screenplay for this film. They also co-produced it with director Gus Van Sant. The film moves at a steady pace that may be too slow for some people. Those who need the fast and furious frenzy of constant-action movies to get their adrenalin flowing are not likely to enjoy this film. But, for the rest of us, it's a nice story that the whole family can enjoy.

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Release Date:

4 January 2013 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Promised Land See more »

Filming Locations:

Apollo, Pennsylvania, USA See more »


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$173,915, 30 December 2012

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | Datasat



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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