Almost thirty years after teaming up on The Pelican Brief, Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts are set to share the screen again, this time on Netflix. The two actors will star in Leave The World Behind, based on the upcoming novel from Rumaan Alam.
The film will follow two upscale families — one white, one Black — who find themselves holed up in the Black family’s remote holiday home in the midst of a citywide blackout that has halted all access to the internet, phones, television, etc., so they have no way of finding out what is going on.
As strange sonic booms begin to pierce the relative peace of the countryside, and animals start to migrate in strange ways, everyone’s mental health begins to disintegrate, leading to race and class issues bubbling to the surface.
The film will reunite Roberts with her Homecoming showrunner Sam Esmail, who will adapt the novel. Netflix reportedly beat out strong offers from Apple and MGM for the project, but both of those offers would have turned the novel into a limited series instead.
This sounds great. Washington and Roberts have been consistently good throughout their careers. To see them as warring family heads in a timely film revolving around racial and class divides should be fascinating. Plus, the blackout premise of the film has obvious comparisons to the current coronavirus pandemic, so this could be a very relevant film in multiple ways when it eventually arrives.
The Pelican Brief grossed nearly $200 million back in 1993, and Netflix will be hoping for a similar, streaming equivalent success this time around. This news comes days after the streaming giant signed Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans and the Russo Brothers on for a $200 million thriller titled The Gray Man, so clearly they’re making a conscious effort to reel in some big stars as their competition heats up.