The movie “Promised Land” has led the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale Coalition to pay for advertising before the movie in 75 percent of the Pennsylvania’s movie theaters that are playing the film, Marcellus Shale Coalition spokesman Travis Windle said.
Windle said that the group bought advertising in Pennsylvania because the natural gas industry has a large presence in the state and about 243,000 jobs are linked to the industry.
“The movie is purely fictional and does not reflect the reality that we see out there,” Windle said. “That’s why we wanted to play a commercial to make certain that people were more aware of the resources available to them to learn about the facts.”
Windle also said that the movie is struggling financially, as the film raised $7.15 million of the $15 million budget.
David Yoxtheimer, an earth and mineral science extension associate at the Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research, said that in his opinion, the movie did not try to portray the science or facts about the industry but rather tried to highlight the social impact. Yoxtheimer also said that even though the gas industry is 99.8 percent safe, mistakes do happen.
“There is a scene with dead cows in the field which can be visually striking," Yoxtheimer said. “There was one recorded case of cows dying after drinking contaminated storage water, but it wasn’t from the drill well contaminating the ground water.”
Critics of the Marcellus Shale Industry — such as Brook Lenker, executive director of FracTracker Alliance —said the gas industry bought the advertising because it feared the movie might cast the industry in a negative light.
Lenker said the movie portrays some of the fear and concerns people have about hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as “fracking,” in the Marcellus Shale industry.
Lenker said the gas industry needs to be more transparent about what it does to eliminate the fears people have about its impact on the ground water and ecology.
“There are many people who have made settlements in court with the drilling companies and are bound by non-disclosure agreements,” Lenker said. “If the industry wants to be transparent then why not share their mistakes so others can learn from them?”