By Adam B. Vary
Updated August 23, 2012 at 10:37 PM EDT
Credit: Michael Buckner, Jemal Countess/Getty Images
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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. The film, based on a story by novelist Dave Eggers, follows Damon and Frances McDormand as corporate suits who hope to convince a small town hit hard by the economy to sign over the drilling rights to their property. Krasinski and Hal Halbrook play the men standing in their way of a deal.

Damon was initially planning on making the film his directorial debut, but Van Sant stepped in when the actor couldn’t squeeze the necessary pre-production time into his packed schedule.

Even with its limited release, Promised Land is entering a crowded end-of-year field. Although The Great Gatsby recently decamped for the summer, this December is still jam packed with big releases — The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Les Misérables, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained — hoping to win over both holiday moviegoers and Academy Award voters.

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Promised Land

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