Left Behind is based on the New York Times bestselling “Left Behind” book series, co-authored by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, which has sold more than 65 million worldwide. Stoney Lake Entertainment CEO Paul Lalonde, the screenwriter and producer, has chosen director Vic Armstrong and actor Nicolas Cage to remake this apocalyptic action-adventure film about the Rapture that Lalonde and his brother Peter Lalonde originally produced in 2001.
The movie follows Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage (National Treasure) as pilot Rayford Steele, who is 30,000 feet over the ocean when the Rapture occurs. Faced with a damaged plane and missing and terrified passengers, he must guide the plane to safety with little help from the world below which is engulfed in chaos. Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray, A Cinderella Story) is the international news correspondent who unexpectedly serves as his co-pilot.
Hattie Durham (Nicky Whelan, Hall Pass) is a senior flight attendant on this flight who must set aside her fears and relationship with Steele to save passengers on the fight. Jordin Sparks (2002 American Idol Winner) plays a football star’s wife with her own secret whose daughter vanishes on the plane during the Rapture.
Meanwhile on the ground, Steele’s daughter, Chloe Steele (Cassi Thompson, Cop Dog), is left on her own to navigate the madness while trying to find her lost mother and brother, both of whom have disappeared in the Biblical event. She struggles to understand the nature of God in a world spinning out of control. Her mother, Irene Steele (Lea Thompson, Dennis the Menace), is caught in a rift between her faith and sharing it with her beloved family whom she warns about the coming Rapture.
This film powerfully shows the chaos and results of people vanishing with no explanation through the eyes of Steele in the air and his daughter Chloe on the ground. Chloe searches desperately to find her mother and brother and puts her life at risk to save her father. After frantically canvasing a hospital to find her brother, Chloe stumbles into the children’s unit only to find that all the children and babies have disappeared. A panic-stricken nurse informs her, “It didn’t just happen here. It’s all over the world.”
Author Jerry Jenkins said, “I believe this film does justice to the novel and will renew interest in the entire series.” Jenkins provided useful notes for the script during pre-production and visited the set during principal photography. Co-author Tim LaHaye added, “It’s the best movie I have ever seen on the Rapture.” Both men acted as consultants for the film.
Nicolas Cage recently said, “My hope for this movie is that people will be entertained and thrilled by it, but also that they’ll go home and have conversations with their family, and ask, ‘Do you think this could happen, or couldn’t happen?’ and it’ll inspire discussion and closeness.”
Cage also revealed recently in a facebook video that his brother, Marc Coppola, who is a Christian pastor, “inspired me to look at this movie.” Coppola said to Cage, “You know, Nicky, you’ve really got to do this.” Coppola is also known as an actor and classic rock DJ on New York’s City’s WAXQ-Radio.
Paul Lalonde, the producer and screenwriter, calls Left Behind, “A contemporary story that could happen at any moment. It’s based on a true story that hasn’t happened yet.” Lalonde turned down offers from three major Hollywood studios to distribute Left Behind because those studios would not allow the final control to be in Stoney Lake Entertainment’s hands. Lalonde insisted Stoney Lake must have total control.
Sonoma contributor Ginny Dent Brant interviewed producer Paul Lalonde at the National Religious Broadcaster’s Convention to ask him about this remake of Left Behind.
SCH: Why did you decide to remake Left Behind?
PL: The producers made the original “Left Behind” films specifically for a Christian audience. But it has always been their intention to create a film based on the books that not only appeals to the core audience but has the potential to expand to a broader audience as well. It depicts the immediate aftermath of what the day of the Rapture might look like in realistic bold and graphic detail. Our team also wanted this film to reach out to unbelievers and to be character driven to help the audience identify with how real people might react to this unthinkable event.
SCH: How will this movie be different from the original 2001 version?
PL: We are lifting this movie to a new production level. The budget will be four times more and the cast will be bigger and better with actors such as Nicolas Cage. The first Left Behind movie is based on the entire Left Behind book while this movie is based on the first 30 pages which cover six to eight hours that day. The 105 minute film is more intense and very focused.
SCH: Why did you choose Nicolas Cage to play Rayford Steele?
PL: He’s one of my favorite actors. He was definitely on my short list. It was a challenge to get him to even read the script. In the world of Nicolas Cage, the script comes before the “how much?” His people got him the script, and he liked it. He brings credibility to this movie that is not just another faith-based movie.
It’s a wide release with a 16 million dollar production budget. I absolutely want to use him to bring non-Christians to the big screen. I only want the best camera men, actors, directors, etc. Being a Christian was not a requirement of working on this film. No one was interviewed as to their spiritual beliefs.
SCH: Do you plan to make a sequel to this movie?
PL: Stoney Lake Entertainment intends to create a franchise for this property. How many movies that will be has not been determined.
This apocalyptic thriller is guaranteed to leave you dangling over the edge of your seat while piercing your heart. With an amazing and well-written screenplay, this film is embedded in current events and has more storyline twists, turns, additional characters, and a surprise ending from the original movie. The character of the daughter, Chloe Steele, is primary and engaging as this young actress delivers a commanding performance.
Paul Lalonde has done an amazing job in selecting talented actors and placing them in the right place. When you leave the theater, you’ll be amazed to see that Lalonde has selected one of the greatest stunt men of all time, Vic Armstrong. to direct this film. Armstrong doubled as Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones film series and served as the stuntman/action director for The Amazing Spider Man.
After seeing the movie, I agree with Tim LaHaye, “This is the best movie I’ve seen on the Rapture.” Theologians and pastors may disagree on the timing of the Rapture in regarding the seven year tribulation period or whether the “snatching of God’s church” is separate or simultaneous with The Second Coming of Christ.
But on this we can all agree, Jesus is coming back to gather his church, and according to a poll conducted by The Barna Group in August 2013, “Forty-one percent of Americans over age 18 believe we are currently living in the end times as described by the prophecies in the Bible.” So my question to you is simple, “Are you ready?”
Left Behind was filmed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and is Stoney Lake Entertainment’s first feature film. It is rated PG-13 and The Dove Foundation has given this movie its family seal of approval for ages 12 and above. Left Behind premieres October 3rd nationwide.
Watch the trailer below:
For more information go to Left Behind Movie.com
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