Obama’s apocalyptic Netflix movie has many viewers on edge: ‘It’s happening’

A new movie on Netflix has viewers wondering what kind of cryptic warning message former President Barack Obama may be sending.

Viewers of the film, “Leave the World Behind” reacted to the fine line between fiction and reality after watching the work by the production company founded by Obama and his wife, former first lady Michelle Obama. The reactions and various conspiracy theories sprouted in the wake of the film’s release prompted a response from the director who dismissed the ideas and any underlying message from Obama.

Based on a 2020 novel by Rumaan Alam, and starring Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke, Mahershala Ali and Kevin Bacon, this first feature film from the Obamas’ company, High Ground, was directed, written and produced by Sam Esmail and is focused on a nationwide cyberattack.

“A family’s getaway to a luxurious rental home takes an ominous turn when a cyberattack knocks out their devices — and two strangers appear at their door,”  reads the description of the film on the Netflix site.

“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 back in September, describing his work with the former president.

Despite being a work of fiction, the film gave viewers an eerie sense of what could be a reality.

But Esmail threw cold water on all the speculation in an interview with Collider.

“I think the silly thing about the whole thing is President Obama really came on a couple of months before we started shooting, so the script had basically been written and done. He obviously gave notes on the script, but the bones of the story and the sequences were already written,” the creator of “The Robot” said. “I would just say they’re pretty wrong in terms of his signaling. It had nothing to do with that.”

“Because President Obama is such a movie lover, he really focused his notes on trying to cinematically portray what was in the book in a really interesting way. The book was on his reading list, it’s one of his favorites, and he really wanted to do justice by the book and this theme about mistrust and this being a cautionary tale about what could happen if we don’t have that community or bond that holds us together,” the director explained.

“So he really gave notes with regards to character, empathy, and also the disaster elements. It was really across the board. And again, it was all in pursuit of making it into a good movie. That was his main focus,” Esmail added.

Actress Julia Roberts admitted there’s “so much to unpack” in the film.

“Sam [Esmail] calls it a disaster movie. Ethan [Hawke] calls it a thriller. It’s both those things. But to me, it’s a story about this family, this husband and wife, who are kind of opposites. He’s the quieter, more laid back. And she’s this prickly workaholic,” she said in an interview with CBS News.

“There’s so much to unpack, you know when you’re talking about this movie,” the actress added. “There’s just so many different ideas to talk about. There’s so much fragility in the world to talk about. There’s so much that really is in our capable hands that we’re not being truly responsible with.”

Viewers continued to drop their reactions and theories on X about the movie and the Obamas’ involvement.

Frieda Powers

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