Julia Roberts-Led Apocalyptic Thriller to Open at AFI Film Festival

American Film Institute announced that Netflix’s upcoming apocalyptic thriller Leave the World Behind has been selected to open the 37th AFI Fest. Sam Esmail’s latest will premiere on October 25 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, where AFI Fest 2023 will take place between October 25-29.

“Sam Esmail is a commanding voice in the new generation of cinematic storytellers, and we are proud to present the World Premiere of his new film at AFI FEST,” AFI president Bob Gazzale said in a statement. “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.”

What is Leave the World Behind about?

“In the film, Amanda and her husband Clay, rent a luxurious home for the weekend with their kids, Archie and Rose,” reads the synopsis. “Their vacation is soon upended when two strangers — G.H. and his daughter Ruth — arrive in the night, bearing news of a mysterious cyberattack and seeking refuge in the house they claim is theirs. The two families reckon with a looming disaster that grows more terrifying by the minute, forcing everyone to come to terms with their places in a collapsing world.”

Based on Rumaan Alam’s 2020 novel of the same name, the Leave the World Behind is written and directed by Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot). The film stars Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke, Mahershala Ali, Myha’la Herrold, Kevin Bacon, Farrah MacKenzie, and Charlie Evans. Executive producers are Barack and Michelle Obama, Tonia Davis, Daniel M. Stillman and Nick Krishnamurthy.

The film will start streaming on Netflix on December 8.