Amid a rising tide of biblical movies this year, the Christian drama "Left Behind," starring Nicolas Cage, has been set for release Oct. 3 by Stoney Lake Entertainment, according to a Variety report.
Based on the popular book series by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, "Left Behind" is set on a commercial airliner in the immediate aftermath of the Rapture, in which millions of Christians have been transported to heaven while the rest of the world is plunged into chaos. Cage plays Ray Steele, a pilot trying to calm his hysterical passengers, land his damaged plane and get back to his family.
Cage told Variety he was attracted to the role "because it was so challenging and unusual to me."
"Left Behind," directed by Vic Armstrong from a script by Paul Lalonde and John Patus, was shot on a $16-million budget over six weeks in Louisiana last summer. The cast also includes Chad Michael Murray, Cassi Thomson, Nicky Whelan, Lea Thompson and Jordin Sparks.
"Left Behind" will arrive in a year marked by numerous high-profile faith-based films, including "Son of God," "Noah" and "Exodus." Last week, the small Christian-themed drama "God's Not Dead" made a surprising debut at the box office, taking in an estimated $8.5 million over its first weekend.
Lalonde, who is also a producer on the film and the chairman of Stoney Lake, said what differentiates "Left Behind" from other faith-based movies "is that it is a contemporary story that could actually happen at any moment. It's also a historical account, in a sense, because it's based on a true story, it just hasn't happened yet."
The movie's website says one of the reasons for the reboot is that "the producers saw an opportunity to make a film that, with a bigger budget, celebrity actors and a theatrical release, will help introduce 'Left Behind' to even more people around the world."
The "Left Behind" books have been published in 32 languages and sold more than 65 million copies. They also spawned the 2000 adaptation "Left Behind: The Movie," which starred Kirk Cameron and grossed $4.2 million. Two sequels followed on DVD.
Lalonde produced the original film trilogy as well and said that a sequel to the new "Left Behind" is also planned.
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