“The Leftovers” may have brought the Rapture to the small screen, but Nicholas Cage might turn it mainstream on the silver screen with his latest project, “Left Behind.”
The apocalyptic film is a remake of a 2001 film starring real-life evangelist Kirk Cameron. Both are based on a bestselling book series of the same name that tells the story of the biblical prophecy from the Book of Revelations in which God calls the innocent to Heaven to be saved and leaves those who have not repented for their sins behind.
Nicholas Cage plays Ray Steele, a commercial airline pilot who must regain control of his plane after the Rapture takes place. On the ground, his daughter Chloe, played by Cassi Thomson, searches for her lost mother and brother.
The film, which will be released in 1,785 theaters, will premiere on the same weekend as David Fincher-Ben Affleck thriller “Gone Girl” and the demon doll horror movie “Annabelle,” which are expected to dominate the box office. Mark Borde, distribution chief at Freestyle Releasing, told The Wrap that an opening in the $10 million range would be ideal.
While the movie targets faith-based audiences, the plot has a broader appeal, according to Paul Lalonde, the film’s writer and producer of “Left Behind” and CEO of Cloud Ten Pictures. He was responsible for the last three “Left Behind” films featuring Kirk Cameron.
“The goal of this movie was to not be preachy,” Lalonde told the New York Post. “I’ve been preachy in eight movies already. It was time for a different approach. You get too preachy, it turns people off. That’s what’s kept faith-based movies in the church basements and out of the theaters.”
But the film’s marketing strategy tells a different story - though it’s fairly tongue in cheek. On Sept. 29 a promotional poster was released on the film’s Facebook site with the quote, "Please do not bring unbelievers to this movie. — Satan." Another poster quotes the Book of Matthew. Willie Robertson, Duck Dynasty star and one of the film’s executive producers, says “Left Behind” can be used as a tool to talk to “those who have not found their way.” Televangelist David Jeremiah said, “God is going to use this film!”
So far, “Left Behind” has suffered poor reviews. The New York Daily News said the film’s script was “barely patched together.” A.A. Dowd from the AV Club described it as “a fire-and-brimstone sermon wrapped in the tissue of a bad disaster thriller.” Roger Moore from the McClatchy-Tribune News Service was the most optimistic saying the film was “Not very good, but not the utter embarrassment some seem to have expected.”
“Left Behind” is among several faith-based films to hit theaters in the near future. Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” based on the Book of Exodus will arrive in December. Next year, a prequel to “The Passion of the Christ” starring Ben Kingsley called “Mary” is set to release in April.