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Well, this is a lousy way to start the year. Over the last few months we’ve been watching as The Road director John Hillcoat attempted to kickstart a film adaptation of Matt Bondurant‘s novel The Wettest County in the World, which evidently was to be called The Promised Land on screen. Hillcoat had a script by Nick Cave and a solid cast attached, including Ryan Gosling and Shia LaBeouf.

Now, in a piece printed in the UK, Hillcoat says the film is dead as he expresses a dismal view of the film business in general.

Hillroat published a diary kept while making The Road in UK paper The Telegraph. (via The Playlist) There, as an epilogue to the experience of getting his latest film into theaters, he writes:

My own new project – with a much-loved script by Nick Cave and a dream all-star cast – has fallen apart. The finance company that we began The Road with has also fallen apart, having to radically downsize to one remaining staff member. The great divide has begun, with only very low-budget films being made or huge 3-D franchise films – the birth of brand films such as Barbie, Monopoly: The Movie – who knows what’s next, Coca-Cola: The Movie? I end the year appropriately – gazing into the apocalypse of my own industry.

This stings, as headlines today will also carry news of Avatar crossing the one billion dollar line. Nothing against Avatar, but if Hillcoat’s view of the business is right (“the perfect storm has arrived in Hollywood: a global economic downturn combined with piracy and the increase of downloading on the internet…The reactionary first phase has kicked in – few films in development, many films put on hold or shut down.”) then we’ll see a lot fewer films like The Promised Land in the near future.

The bright side, if you can call it that, is that Hillcoat does have other projects in the works, including an adaptation of Nick Cave’s latest novel The Death of Bunny Munro. Let’s hope one of those is deemed vaguely commercial enough to get a green light. Or maybe — just maybe — some other outfit with a few bucks to spend will swoop in and make The Promised Land happen.

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