“Promised Land,” a new film which takes a strong anti-fracking stance, was financed in part by money from the government of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — a region that stands to profit from the failure of the fracking industry.
This fact has some questioning the motives behind the investment, and led some bloggers to speak of a “conspiracy theory.”
The movie was written by and stars Oscar winner Matt Damon and “The Office’s” John Krasinski, both of whom are vocal opponents of the fracking process.
“Promised Land” was produced by three production companies: Focus Features, Participant Media, and Image Nation Abu Dhabi FZ — which was launched in 2008 as a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media and is fully owned by the government of Abu Dhabi.
The Abu Dhabi and the UAE economies have been driven by profits from its oil reserves for decades. Hydraulic fracking, a relatively new process, involves drilling about a mile below the surface of the earth in order to release natural gas from rocks within the “fractures” created by the drills (here is a more in-depth look to how it works). More gas derived from fracking means that the United States might need to purchase less oil from OPEC states like the UAE — which produces 2.7 million barrels of oil a day.
Another source of contention has been the fact that the chairman of the board of Abu Dhabi Media, His Excellency Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, is also the undersecretary to the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court. His boss, his highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, serves on the Supreme Petroleum Council of the Abu Dhabi National oil company, which is “the highest authority responsible for the petroleum affairs in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.”
Despite the alleged conflict of interest, Image Nation has stood its ground. Danielle Perissi, executive director of communications at the Abu Dhabi-based production company, told Business Insider that “Abu Dhabi Media is a commercially-driven and independently-operated entity, which receives supporting funds from the Abu Dhabi government.”
Sources told Business Insider that the movie was funded out of a $250 million “slate-based investment” formed in 2008 between Participant Media and Image Nation Abu Dhabi, in which both sides agreed to make 15-18 films using the capital from the investment fund. Participant Media, which is known for creating provocative and socially conscious films, added via email that the investment “covers all qualifying Participant narrative films regardless of genre or subject matter.”
However, when asked how the two companies went about choosing which films are funded by the slate-based investment, or which company was primarily responsible for choosing to fund “Promised Land,” from the joint venture, both sides declined to comment.
Since the agreement, the two companies have produced an impressive repertoire of films together —including the Oscar winner, “The Help,” “Contagion,” and “Fair Game,” which stars Naomi Watts as the C.I.A undercover agent Valerie Plaime and Sean Penn as her husband.
Here is the trailer for “Promised Land:”