Appalachian Basin

Promised Land Missing Its Mark With Film Reviewers

The film Promised Land debuted at the box office on the weekend of January 4-6.  We noted, at that time,  we would have to wait to see how it did with the general public, but that it wasn’t scoring too high with movie critics.  Since then we have updated the post three times and Promised Land may now officially be declared a flop.

UPDATE III: Promised Land may now be declared dead; may it rest in peace.  Following a 68.5% decline in ticket sales for last weekend, the fall accelerated pace this past weekend with another 89.8% drop, putting it at No. 82 on the list of all time fastest box offices failures.  A movie called Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter from last summer actually did better; much better, in fact, as did another one called Eight Legged Freaks from 2002.  Moreover, some 1,513 theaters stopped showing it last week, leaving it in only 134 theaters nationwide with average sales of $970.  Altogether, it’s produced $7.5 million in ticket sales, which won’t even pay Matt Damon’s typical take on a movie, and only generated $130,000 in box office receipts last week.  It would have to play more than another year at this rate to break-even, so that’s not happening.  Therefore, we may now end the suspense.  It was a flop.

UPDATE II: Promised Land has now been in theaters for 3 weeks, and with over $8 million to go to break even on production costs, the film is dropping off in numbers, dropping like a rock in fact. It has gone from 10th to 18th in the rank of current movies, and is listed as 85th on Box Office Mojo’s list of all time biggest 2nd weekend drops. Take a look at this chart from Box Office Mojo.


UPDATE I:  From Box Office Mojo comes the following:

After a middling performance in limited release, Promised Land expanded to 1,676 locations this weekend but could only muster $4.3 million (good for 10th place). While Matt Damon is obviously a star, audiences aren’t going to show up for anything he does, especially when the marketing fails to present any semblance of an interesting story. With its “B” CinemaScore, and without any Academy Award nominations (that’s an assumption based on its poor reviews and lack of any previous awards recognition), the movie should disappear quickly from theaters.

The film Promised Land officially opened this weekend and a lot of people are curious about whether it will be successful. As with any major Hollywood film, the initial litmus test will be how well it does on opening weekend.  The pre-release showings weren’t so hot.  Unfortunately, more detailed statistics will not be released until early next week. This doesn’t mean there aren’t other metrics to gauge the possible success of this film, though.

Movie reviews for the film have been popping up for the last few weeks and judging from these professionals Promised Land fails to deliver. Currently, Rotten Tomatoes, a service of Flixster that aggregates reviews of films with user comments to educate interested film-goers, rates the film at a 50%. Perhaps an even more telling statistic on the site is how many people actually like the film, a mere 40%.


Below are some of the biggest names in movie reviewing, see for yourself what they think of Promised Land:

Richard Corliss TIME Magazine “The movie slogs along like a Grant Wood farmer behind his plow.”

A.O. Scott New York Times “’Promised Land’ feels divided against itself, not quite sure how to reconcile its polemical intentions with its storytelling impulses, and thus finally unable to fulfill its own promise.” Original Score: 2.5/5

Steven Rea Philadelphia Inquirer “Promised Land is a frustrating film to watch. It should be better than this, smarter than this.” Original Score: 2/4

Leonard Maltin Leonard Maltin’s Picks “I give this movie’s costars and creators credit for making a “message movie” as palatable and entertaining as Promised Land.” Original Score: 2.1/2

Kyle Smith New York Post “Damon wants to put you in very serious mode and have you think of “issue movies” like “The China Syndrome,” but all I could do was laugh and think of “Lolita.” Original Score: 1.5/4

Christy Lemire Associated Press “’Promised Land’ offers an experience that’s alternately amusing and frustrating, full of impassioned earnestness as well as saggy sections.”Original Score: 2/4

Nick Pinkerton Village Voice “Promised Land is a hard-sell movie because it doesn’t have the confidence in its audience to make any other outcome seem personally viable, to give the opposition a fighting chance or persuasive voice.”

Eric Kohn indieWIRE “Can’t help but preach its cause in obvious ways that continually hold back an otherwise well-acted, swiftly paced drama.” Original Score: B-

Sandy Schaefer ScreenRant “Promised Land is high-minded material – but makes for a flaccid viewing experience.” Original Score: 2.5/5

Jonathan Lack We Got This Covered “The film wants to be meaningful, wants to have topical significance and emotional heft, but it arrives mostly empty, and in a year filled with great and memorable films, Promised Land is not worth anyone’s attention.” Original Score: 5/10

Jeff Beck “’Promised Land’ ends up being about two-thirds of a decent film, despite having problems with its characters. Had there been a little more thought put into the ending, perhaps it would have been more satisfying.”Original Score: 2.5/4

Ann Lewinson Kansas City Star “Lacking confidence that these didactic speeches will drive its message home, the film throws in a paranoid plot twist from which it never recovers.” Original Score: 2/4

Josh Bell Las Vegas Weekly “Just as underhanded as the soulless corporations it’s taking to task.”Original Score: 1/5

Annlee Ellingson Paste Magazine “Promised Land attempts to present both sides of the argument while ultimately falling decidedly on the side of anti-corporatization.” Original Score: 6.5/10

James Berardinelli ReelViews “It’s as if the people behind Promised Land only agreed to make the movie if there was an unambiguous “policy statement” at the end, and that’s what we’re subjected to.”Original Score: 2/4


We’ll see how it does at the box office this weekend, and if you do venture out to see the film, be sure to also check out The Real Promised Land for a perspective from real people living in Armstrong County and across the Marcellus Shale region where the movie was filmed.


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