leave the world behind

Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington to Reunite for New Thriller

Julia will play someone renting a vacation home from Denzel. Photo: Samir Hussein/Samir HusseinWireImage

What’s catchier, Pelican Brief 2: 2 Pelican 2 Brief? Or Pelican Brief 2: The Rebriefening? We’re partial to Pelican Brief 2: The Briefquel. Deadline reports that Netflix just won a “vigorous bidding battle” for the world rights to the Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington–starring adaptation of Rumaan Alam’s novel Leave the World Behind. If you haven’t heard of Alam’s book, that’s because it isn’t out yet. That’s right, Leave the World Behind won’t be published until this fall, but “there were 10 offers on the project with studios and streamers bidding for movies and limited series” based on the book, with the bidding war reportedly coming down to Netflix, Apple, and MGM. Part of the project’s appeal is based in the promise of Roberts and Washington, two of the most A-list stars in the history of lists, reuniting for the first time since The Pelican Brief. But the summary of Alam’s plot also seems like a perfect big-budget Netflix movie:

Amanda and Clay’s aspirational vacation with their teenage children is interrupted by the arrival of a middle-aged couple who own the holiday home and who have fled an unprecedented blackout in the city. When the internet, television, and radio stop working, as does the landline, they have no way of finding out what is happening. As strange sonic booms shatter the peace of the countryside, and animals start to migrate in strange ways, the physical and mental health of the families begins to disintegrate. The renters are upscale and white; the owners are upscale and Black. The issues of race and class become distractions to the more alarming things happening all around them.

Roberts will play the renter and Washington will play the homeowner. Leave the World Behind will be adapted and directed by Sam Esmail, who recently worked with Roberts on season one of Homecoming, which included a scene where Roberts was confronted with an actual pelican sitting on a pile of briefs. Coincidence? We think not.

Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington to Reunite for New Thriller