Environmentalist Movie Funded by Oil-Rich Royalty

Matt Damon / AP

Matt Damon / AP


Matt Damon turned to oil-rich Middle East royalty to finance his film attacking domestically produced natural gas.

The environmentalist screed, Promised Land, received a chunk of its funding from the United Arab Emirates, an oil kingdom known for its lavish spending on man-made islands and the world’s tallest building, according to the Heritage Foundation.

The creators of Promised Land have gone to absurd lengths to vilify oil and gas companies, as Scribe’s Michael Sandoval noted Wednesday. Since recent events have demonstrated the relative environmental soundness of hydraulic fracturing – a technique for extracting oil and gas from shale formations – Promised Land’s script has been altered to make doom-saying environmentalists the tools of oil companies attempting to discredit legitimate “fracking” concerns. …

Promised Land was also produced “in association with” Image Media Abu Dhabi, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media, according to the preview’s list of credits. A spokesperson with DDA Public Relations, which is running PR for the film, confirmed that AD Media is a financier. The company is wholly owned by the government of the UAE.

An ever-growing market for domestic fracking threatens dependence on foreign oil from the likes of UAE and OPEC.

A strong global market presence for American natural gas could also work to the UAE’s disadvantage. The Arab nation ranks seventh worldwide in proven natural gas reserves. For instance, Japan’s energy imports are expected to rise significantly over the next five years. The country is currently a major importer of UAE natural gas. If it decided to import more LNG from the United States to accommodate its increased energy demands, it could deal a blow to the UAE economy. …

All of this suggests a direct financial interest on the UAE’s part in slowing the development of America’s natural gas industry. Pop culture can be a powerful means to sway public opinion. While Promised Land, like anti-fracking documentary Gasland, appears to inflate the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, it may have an impact on the public’s view of the practice.

Matt Damon is a longtime Democratic partisan. Though he has voiced criticisms of Barack Obama, he donated $4,600 in 2008 to then-candidate Obama. Damon also co-hosted a star-studded fundraiser for Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren in Hollywood that netted the “Native American” candidate $250,000.