How humans behave in a crisis of apocalyptic proportions is the subject of Julia Roberts’ first film for Netflix , the adaptation of Rumaan Alam’s acclaimed literary thriller of the same title. Roberts and Ethan Hawke play Amanda and Clay, middle-class New Yorkers who, along with their two teenaged kids, rent a luxurious Airbnb for a weeklong vacation in Long Island, a home described online as a beautiful place to “leave the world behind”.
Their family’s idyllic vacation is disrupted when the home’s real owners G.H. ( Mahershala Ali) and Ruth Washington ( Myha'la Herrold) show up at the door, asking to be let in and live with their bewildered renters because the East Coast has been hit by an ominous blackout that has downed the internet, cut off mobile phones, leaving everyone literally in the dark as an armageddon-type event unfolds.
The intrusion exposes something uglier than the portents of the end of the world. In the book, Amanda has trouble believing that G.H. and Ruth can possibly own this expensive home because they are black. Could they be con artists? This is the worst time for racial prejudice and certainly no time to rue a spoiled dream vacation. There are kids to protect, and the humans portrayed by this stellar cast find their own ways of dealing with new realities as they leave their old worlds behind.
Release Date December 7, 2023
Director Sam Esmail
Cast Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Kevin Bacon, Mahershala Ali
Main Genre Drama
will release on December 8, 2023.
Since Netflix is behind Leave the World Behind, the film will be made available on the aforementioned streaming service on December 8. No information has been released yet on whether the film will receive a theatrical release, but a limited release does seem likely given that previous Netflix films such as and received the big-screen treatment.
No trailer for has been released, and we likely won't have one until closer to the film's release date. However, a sizzle reel was released back in January highlighting some of Netflix's biggest movies of 2023 including , , , , and of course, .
“Something is happening, and I don’t trust them,” Julia Roberts’ character Amanda says in the brief footage of revealed in Netflix’s 2023 sizzle reel.
The people Amanda distrusts are the black American family G.H. and Ruth Washington who show up unannounced at Amanda and Clay’s rental Airbnb, claiming to be its real owners.
It’s the worst time to have trust issues and discover that one is deep-inside racist because something is indeed happening. A news graphic reports news of a nationwide cyberattack and power outages along east coast metropolitan areas.
Director Sam Esmail, known for directing the first seasons of and creates a surreal scene where Roberts’ Amanda stands amidst an endless line of wrecked Teslas. Ali’s G.H. looks alarmed at whatever it is he sees from his car. The first image released by Netflix shows the two couples at something terrible going on offscreen, a certain doom they will be forced to face together.
There’s an ugly side to Amanda, the lead character in Rumaan Alam’s apocalyptic novel . And it is this ugly side that likely attracted Academy Award-winning actress Julia Roberts to this deliciously complex role of a liberal, modern woman who discovers her own prejudices and weaknesses at a time of crisis.
Roberts reunites Esmail to bring Alam’s book to the screen, her enthusiasm for the material at one point leading to the as G.H., a casting coup that unfortunately did not pan out. It’s been 30 years since the pair of A-listers worked together on and the prospect of their reunion ignited a bidding war for the adaptation of Alam’s already hot, best-selling book.
Two-time Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali steps into , the wealthy black owner of the Long Island Airbnb who, along with Myha'la Herrold (Industry) disrupt the dream vacation of renters Amanda and Clay bearing news of a massive blackout. Expert in the ways of the world, G.H. is as helpless as we all might be when the electricity and internet are cut off.
() who continues to surprise audiences with the diverse roles he takes on, plays Clay, the husband and father whose attempts to protect his family will prove less than heroic.
The always reliable () plays Danny, described in the book as the competent and dependable contractor who built the Washingtons' perfect house whom G.H. has come to consider his friend and his go-to for everything, including how to survive the apocalypse. Also in the cast are Farrah Mackenzie () as Rosie and Charlie Evans () as Leonard.
The official synopsis via Netflix reads:
A family vacation on Long Island is interrupted by two strangers bearing news of a mysterious blackout. As the threat grows more imminent, both families must decide how best to survive the potential crisis, all while grappling with their own place in this collapsing world.
The huge names behind this film should make audiences excited to see this December apocalypse on Netflix, with the aforementioned Sam Esmail directing the film and penning the script. The novel's author Rumaan Alam also serves as executive producer. Esmail, Roberts, Chad Hamilton, Lisa Gillan, and Marisa Yeres Gill will be producing.
This is a big win for Netflix which came out on top after a fierce bidding war that included Apple and MGM and a host of other studios and streamers interested in the book adaptation even before the novel came out and became a 2020 National Book Award finalist. The book was among Barack Obama's Summer Favorites and named among 2020’s best books by NPR, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The LA Times, and many more.
Filming for Leave the World Behind began in the Long Island area in April 2022 with additional filming taking place in Katonah, New York, the next month.