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Titus Welliver on 'Promised Land' fracking issue, his wife's death, working with Affleck and Damon

Titus Welliver may be known to Lost fans as the ominous “Man in Black,” and to others for tough-faced parts in Supernatural, Grimm, Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy, and Ben Affleck-directed movies Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and now Argo, but in Gus Van Sant’s new film Promised Land, he plays a regular guy store owner, a refreshing change for Welliver.

The movie, starring and co-written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, has shone a spotlight on the continued debate surrounding hydraulic fracking – an environmentally controversial method of extracting natural gas from the ground that has prompted energy companies to buy drilling rights in rural towns such as the one at the heart of the movie. Damon plays Steve, a company guy who arrives in the small farming town with his co-worker Sue (Frances McDormand) to get landowners to sign off drilling rights to their land. Welliver plays Rob, the owner of an aptly-named local store called Rob’s Guns, Groceries, Guitars and Gas, who strikes up a flirtation with Sue, and is less overtly direct about his own stance on fracking.

Welliver, though, is very clear. He’s anti-fracking, but also sees the movie as a Frank Capra-esque look at the human relationships involved, more than politics. As well, in the midst of promoting the movie, the gravel-voiced actor has been dealing with the devastating loss of his wife, producer Elizabeth W. Alexander, who died from complications due to breast cancer in October. Now a single father to their 6-year-old daughter, and two sons from a previous relationship, Welliver spoke to EW frankly and emotionally about Alexander, her firm belief in him being involved in Promised Land even while she was sick, about the controversy over fracking, and working with both Damon and Affleck, hopefully for years to come.
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Box office report: 'Texas Chainsaw' massacres competition with $23 million; 'Zero Dark Thirty' shines in limited release

Lionsgate’s Saw franchise may have gone the way of the dodo, but this weekend the studio re-birthed another horror franchise centered on a limb-mangling blade. Texas Chainsaw 3D, a sequel/reboot of the 1974 horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, bowed with a bloody good $23.0 million, making 2013 the second year in a row that a horror film has kicked off the year in first place. The Devil Inside debuted with $33.7 million last January.

Texas Chainsaw 3D started off slower than the 2003 Jessica Biel remake The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which opened with $28.1 million and found $80.6 million total, but it performed better than the 2006 prequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, which started with $18.5 million and earned $39.5 million overall. Texas Chainsaw 3D will likely finish somewhere between those two predecessors, perhaps with about $50-55 million domestically. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'Texas Chainsaw 3D' faces off against 'The Hobbit'

The Hobbit managed to hold both Django Unchained and Les Miserables out of the top spot last weekend, but will it be able to do the same when facing off against 2013′s first new release, Texas Chainsaw 3D, as well as expanding drama Promised Land? Well, probably.

Here’s how the box office may shake out this weekend: READ FULL STORY

CONSIDER THIS: Aaron Sorkin gives a frack about 'Promised Land'

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Academy Awards voting is in full swing, and EW’s Prize Fighter has spent the week asking folks with Oscar histories of their own to share their personal favorites of the year. Aaron Sorkin, who had an adapted screenplay nomination last year for co-writing Moneyball and won in the category for The Social Network, wrote us on behalf of Promised Land, a drama about a rural town that is considering selling its natural gas rights, though there may be an unseen risk to the reward.

Somewhere along the line, someone in the next few weeks is going to tell you that Promised Land, a perfect film from Matt Damon, John Krasinski and Gus Van Sant, is about fracking. They won’t be entirely wrong, but Promised Land is only about fracking if Jaws is about fishing. READ FULL STORY

Watch the trailer for 'Promised Land,' Matt Damon's fracking movie -- VIDEO

The trailer for the Matt Damon and John Krasinski penned Promised Land has hit the Internet.

Damon and Krasinksi also star in the film, about a natural gas company salesman (Damon) trying to convince farmers in a small town to sell their land for fracking (a complicated term that basically means extracting natural gas and oil) rights. Krasinski plays a farmer wary of Damon’s pitch. The movie also features Frances McDormand and Hal Holbrook. Watch the video below!

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'Promised Land,' starring and written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, gets Oscar-qualifying release

The first time Matt Damon teamed up with a fellow actor (Ben Affleck) on a feature screenplay (Good Will Hunting), Gus Van Sant directed it, Damon and his writing partner starred in it, and Damon and said partner walked away with an Academy Award. Fifteen years later, could the same thing happen again this Oscar season?

That appears to be the hope of Focus Features, which announced today it will release Van Sant’s newest film Promised Land — written by and starring Damon and John Krasinski — for an Oscar qualifying run in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 28, expanding in a platform release through Jan., 2013. READ FULL STORY

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