Nearly 30 years after working together on The Pelican Brief, stars Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington are set to reteam for Leave the World Behind, a Netflix movie that will double as a reunion between Roberts and her Homecoming showrunner Sam Esmail.
Per Deadline, the film will be based on an upcoming novel from Rumaan Alam that follows two upscale families — one white, one Black — who find themselves sharing a remote vacation home (owned by the Black couple) in the midst of a citywide blackout that has knocked out phones, television, radio and the internet, so they have no way of finding out what is happening. As strange sonic booms shatter the peace of the countryside, and animals start to migrate in strange ways, everyone’s mental health begins to disintegrate and issues of race and class become distractions from more alarming things happening all around them.
Netflix beat out Apple and MGM for the hot project, which also had offers that would’ve turned it into a limited series. Esmail will adapt the novel, which is slated for publication this fall. In a spooky bit of irony, I lost power in the middle of writing this article, and you’d be surprised how worthless a blogger feels without the internet at their fingertips.
Roberts will produce Leave the World Behind via her Red Om Films banner, while Esmail and Chad Hamilton will produce for Esmail Corp. Washington will also serve as a producer, while Alam will be credited as an executive producer. Red Om’s Lisa Gillan and Marisa Yeres Gill are also expected to be involved in some kind of producing capacity.
I think this project boasts a really interesting premise, and honestly, it’s the sort of material that Roberts and Washington have largely avoid over the course of their sterling careers. It feels like a genre piece out of The Twilight Zone, but one that offers a pair of juicy roles, especially given some of the issues that arise over the course of this scary saga. The material must be above average, because Roberts and Washington don’t sign on to new projects lightly.
The Pelican Brief was a major hit back in 1993, grossing nearly $200 million worldwide. Roberts and Washington have long wanted to work together again, and they’re the latest A-listers to join Netflix’s constellation of stars. The streaming service just signed up Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans to star in The Gray Man, which will be the Russo brothers’ next movie. For more on that $200 million action thriller, click here.