Mahershala Ali Stars in Sam Esmail’s Upcoming Apocalyptic Thriller “Leave the World Behind”

In the film, married couple Amanda (Julia Roberts) and Clay (Ethan Hawke) rent a luxurious weekend home with their family, only for their plans to be disrupted by the arrival of strangers G.H. (Ali) and his daughter Ruth (Myha'la Herrold), who claim to be the owners of the house.

From left to right: actors Myha'la Herrold, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke and Julia Roberts
"Leave the World Behind," which stars Oscar winners Mahershala Ali and Julia Roberts opposite Ethan Hawke and Myha'la Herrold, is based on Rumaan Alam's bestselling book of the same name.

The world premiere has been announced for the Mahershala Ali-led apocalyptic thriller “Leave the World Behind” (2023). The film, which was directed by “Mr. Robot” (2015 – 2019) showrunner and Muslim American producer Sam Esmail, will open the 37th installment of AFI Fest at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre on Oct. 25.

In addition to the Oscar-winning Ali, "Leave the World Behind" features Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke and Kevin Bacon. “Leave the World Behind” was produced by Esmail Corp and Red Om Films, and executive produced by the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions.

“Leave the World Behind” follows two families struggling for survival. Married couple Amanda (Roberts) and Clay (Hawke) rent a luxurious weekend home with their kids (Farrah Mackenzie and Charlie Evans), only for their plans to be disrupted by a mysterious blackout and the arrival of strangers G.H. (Ali) and his daughter Ruth (Myha'la Herrold). These newcomers claim to be the owners of the house, forcing both families to confront a growing disaster in a collapsing world.

The film is based on Rumaan Alam's 2020 bestselling novel of the same name, which received critical acclaim and was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction in 2020. “Leave the World Behind” has been praised for its sharp social commentary, atmospheric writing and the suspenseful tension that permeates the narrative. Many readers have found the novel to be a thought-provoking and timely exploration of contemporary anxieties.

When asked about the premiere, AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale said, “Sam Esmail is a commanding voice in the new generation of cinematic storytellers. We are proud to present the world premiere of his new film at AFI Fest. That he is a graduate of the AFI Conservatory only adds to the pride we feel in celebrating this accomplishment — which is both powerful and profound.”

The film will premiere at AFI Fest, taking place from Oct. 25 – 29 at TCL Chinese Theatres. Following its premiere, Netflix will continue the dual-release strategy it has recently employed — “Leave the World Behind” will hit select theaters Nov. 22 before streaming on Netflix on Dec. 8.

Official synopsis:

A family’s vacation is upended when two strangers arrive at night, seeking refuge from a cyberattack that grows more terrifying by the minute, forcing everyone to come to terms with their places in a collapsing world.

 Watch the trailer now:

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