By Ben Geman - 01/07/13 03:40 PM EST
Fracking gets natural gas out of the ground, but it isn’t bringing people into movie theaters.
Big stars and political controversy didn’t translate into a significant box-office haul as “Promised Land,” a new movie exploring environmental concerns about the gas-production method known more formally as "hydraulic fracturing," fared poorly in its nationwide opening.
The top weekend spot, with $23 million, went to the slasher flick “Texas Chainsaw 3D.”
“Promised Land,” which cost $15 million to make and was directed by indie pioneer Gus Van Sant, delves into fears about water pollution from fracking.
Fracking is the increasingly common gas development method that’s fueling a U.S. production boom. It involves high-pressure underground injection of water, sand and chemicals to liberate oil and gas trapped in shale rock formations.
The movie stars Damon as an energy-company representative dispatched to a struggling farm town to convince residents to sell drilling rights on their land — an exchange in which they'll be paid handsomely.
But he runs into moral dilemmas and an environmental activist played by John Krasinski, who co-wrote the movie with Damon.
Environmental groups are using “Promised Land” as a platform for criticism of fracking, while some conservatives are attacking the film.
Damon has noted that fracking is only a backdrop for the story.
“We went to the studio saying, ‘Who f--king wants to go see an anti-fracking movie?’ and were all in agreement,” Damon said in an interview with Playboy.
“To us, the movie was really about American identity. We loved the characters because they felt like real people making the kinds of compromises you have to just to live your life,” he said.
E2-Wire has much more on the film and battles over fracking here.