Times must still be tough for Nic Cage. He’s offered himself up to
God the Left Behind movie series, and it’s really kinda gross. Well, maybe there are some gross points involved, though I wouldn’t hold my breath on the Academy Award-winning actor getting rich off those: The original Left Behind only grossed $4.2 million at the box office in 2001, making it the 18th most successful Christian-themed/Christian-produced movie of all time, lagging far behind the The Passion of the Christ, the Narnia series, both The Omega Code movies (that is pretty sad, those Omega Code flicks sucked massively), and a lot of movies that no one outside of a mega-church supper has ever heard of, like Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (no comment), End of the Spear, and One Night with the King (why do those last two titles make me think of M2M porn?).
According to the Christian Post, Paul Lalonde, CEO of Stoney Lake Entertainment and co-founder of Cloud Ten Pictures, which produced and distributed the first three Left Behinds, two of which went straight to video, said his company was rebooting Left Behind in order to give it the blockbuster treatment many fans and one of the bestselling novels’ authors, Tim LaHaye, had felt the original version deserved. Producer Lalonde, who co-wrote the script for this version of Left Behind as well as co-writing the direct-to-video Left Behind II: Tribulation Force and having solo writing credits for the initial Left Behind, told the Christian Post:
It has always been my goal to produce a big-budget version of ‘Left Behind’ that would appeal to a wider audience. The resources to do this exist now where they didn’t back in 2000.
The “big budget” is estimated at $15million, small by today’s blockbuster standards but big enough to cover special effects and with teen-fan faves Chad Michael Murray and Ashley Tisdale (from High School Musical) and a PG-13 rating, it might draw enough to make its money back. Expect a lot of action: Director Vic Adams has worked as a stunt director on numerous films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Rambo III, The Green Hornet, and Charlie’s Angels, and began his career as a stuntman in You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He has directed one film, Army of One, but has an impressive résumé as a second unit director.
But Nicolas Cage? Srsly wtf are you thinking? Nic Cage, by starring in this movie, you’re promoting a worldview that is negative, narrow, destructive, jingoistic, rigid, anti-sex, anti-comic books, anti-cool, and uptight. Left Behind upholds the pre-tribulation, absolutely nutbag, we-have-to-be-right-so-we’ll-bring-about-the-end-of-the-world thought process that’s at the foundation of the Assemblies of God, other Seven Hills Dominionists, and prophetic, evangelical Conservative Christians. Nic, don’t you understand that eschatology is scatology? Didn’t you used to be edgy, underground, bizarrely hip? This is not a risky role, this is pathetic. All I can think, aside from you needing cash, is that you wanted to give the internets some new memes. But Cage denies he takes roles for paychecks, telling the Guardian:
I’m one of those Americans who believes in working. If you’ve made mistakes in the past, you don’t just roll over on people or cave in, you find a way through it. But in film acting, for some reason you get criticised for working.
But this was the best role you felt you were offered for the time period? Wow. In all fairness, Cage has three movies released or scheduled for release in 2013, the animated The Croods, Joe, and Frozen Ground which co-stars John Cusack and came out in June on limited release and video-on-demand. Left Behind, still in production, and Tokarev, an action film set in the Russian mob, now in post-production, will be released next year. Four other films have Nicolas Cage’s name attached, but only the Paul Schrader-directed The Dying of the Light has a release date listed on IMDBpro.com.
At least Kirk Cameron, who starred in the original three Left Behinds and Michael York who appeared in the execrable laugh/shite fest The Omega Code and Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 have the excuse they are fundie Christians to fall back on. (Same could be said about John Travolta and Battlefield Earth, though Vinnie Barbarino was promoting a different, totalitarian belief system altogether.) The only thing that makes sense is that Cage needs money: At one point he owned two castles, fifteen luxury properties, a fleet of Rolls Royces, and a Gulfstream jet, and yet owed millions in back taxes to the tune of $14 million which he is paying off, And faced three multi-million dollar lawsuits. He blamed his business manager, who in turn blamed the actor’s lavish lifestyle, saying he had urged actor to cut back and to set aside $10 million as cushion:
to alleviate the financial pressure to take film roles that might be detrimental to his career.
Wow, a slave to Mamon indeed. I wonder how much of the estimated $15 million budget Cage is being paid. And did the film producers do their due diligence? Cage has said he has no religion and he donated to Al Gore’s campaign. But maybe that doesn’t matter to Cloud Ten Productions. But it might matter to the audience, though clearly, from the film’s poster, Cage does get left behind, so maybe that’s fairness in advertising.
(And Chad Michael Murray, who played super dreamboat Lucas Scott on One Tree Hill, is this the best you can do? I’m embarrassed for you. Maybe you’re embarrassed too, because your website doesn’t mention Left Behind in its news section. Though you did play young David Alexander in Megiddo: The Omega Code 2, so maybe you’re acting on faith.)
Tim LaHaye, who conceived of and co-wrote the hugely successful Left Behind books with Jerry Jenkins, was a member of the original board of directors of the Moral Majority and an organizer of the Council for National Policy. And if that’s not enough conservative credentials, LaHaye was the former co-chair of Jack Kemp’s presidential campaign. But LaHaye is not happy about the script, telling the Christian Post:
It’s probably the worst script I’ve ever read. And I’ve read scores of them. The plot line is nothing like the book. The only thing they retain are the names of the people, and maybe places. There is no redemptive value to this movie.
But hell, LaHaye has never been happy about the Left Behind movies in the past, calling them
church basement movies.
He took Cloud Ten to court in a case that lasted nine years because he was disappointed that 2001′s Left Behind starring Kirk Cameron didn’t get the initial theatrical production he said the contract had called for and he had dreamed about. Um, because no one cared enough to invest in a large production? Granted the film rights were negotiated between June 1996 and April 1997, before the Christian prophecy novels became a publishing phenomenon, but that’s a gamble everyone took. LaHaye lost the lawsuit, but had the option to remake the series, and if he did not exercise that option (which he didn’t), the rights would revert back to Cloud Ten (which they have). According to Left Behind’s website:
The LEFT BEHIND reboot will focus on the hours immediately following the rapture. It will not cover everything that the first book includes, but will be more specifically concentrated on those first few hours and the chaos of the world in the wake of millions of people vanishing with no explanation…
Without warning, millions of people around the globe simply vanish.
All that remains are their clothes and belongings … and an overwhelming sense of terror. The vanishings cause unmanned vehicles to crash and burn.
Emergency forces everywhere are devastated. Gridlock, riots and looting overrun the cities. And there is no one to help or provide answers. In an instant, the earth has been plunged into darkness.
For RAY STEELE, the pilot of a jumbo jet, it means trying to calm his hysterical passengers who saw loved ones vanish before their eyes.
It remains to been seen if Nic Cage,who stars as Ray Steele, can redeem the Left Behind franchise and/or if Christians will flock to the theaters to see a movie that stars a former -Papist-turned-non-believer and who’s been so crucified by the man who immaculately conceived the original canon. I just know I’m going to hell for making these jokes.