It’s the day for unexpected talent combinations. First came word of Jason Segel and Drew Pearce working up a film based on a documentary, and now it emerges that stunt maestro Vic Armstrong and Nicolas Cage are teaming to reboot the film series based on the Left Behind books. Yes, those Christian apocalypse things that were direct-to-DVD back a few years ago.
Honest, it’s not the fabric of reality being warped as Hallowe’en creeps closer: Armstrong really is making a rare leap into the director’s chair for what, assuming the first film is a success, is planned as a trilogy.
Based in Christian beliefs about the End of Days (what Ray Stanz would call “Old Testament, real wrath of God type stuff”) the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins is a wildly successful franchise (among a certain demographic) of thrillers about humans trying to survive post-Rapture. The fact that the books boast some of the clunkiest writing this side of primary school essays did not deter Paul Lalonde from producing three movies based on them, starring Kirk Cameron - and Lalonde is still a producer here.
Now Armstrong's intent is to go back to basics for more of a disaster-style movie, starring Cage. The story is based on the belief that some Christians have that sections of the faithful will be taken, bodily, up to heaven prior to the end of the world. In this film, the story would begin after those believers have been taken away, and Armageddon gets under way.
Armstrong hasn’t directed a movie since Dolph Lundgren’s 1993 effort Army Of One. But he’s been a stuntman, stunt co-ordinator and second unit director for eons, stacking up credits on such iconic productions as You Only Live Twice (he doubled every Bond up to Brosnan), Blade Runner, The Omen, Superman, Terminator 2, the Indiana Jones trilogy, and, most recently, Salt, Thor and The Amazing Spider-Man, so no one can doubt his cine-credentials.
The first movie is scheduled to begin filming next spring in Baton Rouge with a budget of $15 million.