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Published January 03 2013

Oil Patch theaters not showing fracking film ‘Promised Land’ – for now

Though “Promised Land,” the new film that takes on the controversial process of “fracking,” opens in wide release across the country today, moviegoers in North Dakota’s oil patch won’t be able to see it anytime soon.

Neither the Odyssey Cine 3 Theatre in Dickinson, the Grand Theatre in Williston nor the Carmike Stadium 9 in Minot will be getting “Promised Land” this weekend, according to theater owners and managers.

Fracking, otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing, is a drilling technique being used to extract oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Formation, but critics argue the process can pollute the ground where it’s used.

Tom Agnes, owner of the Williston theater, said he had “no idea” if his cinema will show “Promised Land” in the future, but added it’s not because of anything to do with the film’s controversial subject.

“It’s an independent film, and we don’t usually play those,” he said.

In Minot, the Stadium 9 is owned by Carmike Cinemas, based in Columbus, Ga., which is responsible for booking the theater’s films, manager Demrick Houser said.

Carmike also owns movie theaters in Grand Forks, Bismarck and Devils Lake, none of which are getting “Promised Land” this weekend. Messages left with a Carmike spokesperson on Thursday were not returned.

Marietta Martin, manager of Dickinson’s Odyssey Cine 3, said she’s not sure if or when the theater will get the movie, in part because the theater also is not responsible for its own booking.

Beyond the oil patch, the major theaters in North Dakota to be getting “Promised Land” this weekend will be Bismarck’s Grand Theatre, Fargo’s Marcus Century 10 Cinema and the River Cinema 15 in Grand Forks.

Russell Fix, the Grand Theatre’s manager, said staff there wanted to get the film as soon as it was available because they figured it would be of interest for local patrons.

“We pushed to get the movie because we knew that the topic would be very popular as far as a lot of people wanting to see it,” he said.

Additionally, theater staff has been fielding calls from local residents wondering about the film, according to Fix.

“It’s been one of our bigger movies as far as people asking if we’re bringing it in,” he said. “We expect to be very busy this weekend.”

At Fargo’s Century 10, though, general manager Derek Pikop said he hadn’t noticed “Promised Land” getting any significant buzz around the Fargo-Moorhead area.

“I haven’t received any phone calls about it, not so much more than any normal movie,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535