‘Off By a Few’

Upcoming film, Leave the World Behind, marks the first fictional movie from the Obama’s Higher Ground Productions company

An upcoming film, Leave the World Behind, will be the first fictional movie from Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions company. The Netflix film is based on the 2020 novel of the same name by Rumaan Alam and was included in the formere president’s 2021 summer reading list.

The movie stars Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke as a couple renting a vacation home in Long Island with their children when an apocalypse hits. The owner of the home, played by Mahershala Ali, and his daughter (Myha’la Herrold) seek refuge with the family as the disaster unfolds around them.

An expert in crisis management, Barack sent script notes to writer-director Sam Esmail, creator of Mr. Robot and Homecoming.

“In the original drafts of the script, I definitely pushed things a lot farther than they were in the film, and President Obama, having the experience he does have, was able to ground me a little bit on how things might unfold in reality,” Esmail told Vanity Fair in an interview published Wednesday. “I am writing what I think is fiction, for the most part, I’m trying to keep it as true to life as possible, but I’m exaggerating and dramatizing. And to hear an ex-president say you’re off by a few details… I thought I was off by a lot! The fact that he said that scared the fuck out of me.”


“He had a lot notes about the characters and the empathy we would have for them,” the director added. “I have to say he is a big movie lover, and he wasn’t just giving notes about things that were from his background. He was giving notes as a fan of the book, and he wanted to see a really good film.” 

Leave the World Behind will have its world premiere at Hollywood’s AFI Fest in October and streams on Netflix on Dec. 8.


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