Crowdfunding Campaign Launched for “Left Behind 2” Movie

Nicolas Cage in “Left Behind.” (Photo courtesy
Nicolas Cage in “Left Behind.” (Photo courtesy

You can get a speaking role in the next “Left Behind” movie for $7,500. You can name a character for $5,000, or appear as an extra in the background as the heroes figure out End Times prophecy for $2,500.

You can get these movie perks if you join the crowdfunding campaign for the sequel to the 2014 “Left Behind” film starring Nicolas Cage. Producer Paul Lalonde began a campaign on Indiegogo with a goal of raising $500,000 to finance the film.

“I’m asking you to be more than a fan,” Lalonde says in the promotional video explaining the campaign. “I’m asking you to be a partner in this vision.”

More than 130 people contributed in the first three days, giving nearly $40,000.

The 2014 reboot of the franchise was funded in the traditional way with big investors who expect a return. But the movie did not do very well, critically or financially. It received 2 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, meaning critics generally did not give it a stamp of approval.

Made with a healthy budget of $16 million, it earned $14 million in the United States and another $5.6 million internationally, doing moderate business in Brazil, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates. It is difficult to attract investors to a sequel with such small profits.

For dedicated fans, though, money is not the point. The point is spreading the message.

“As Christians we all know it can be difficult sharing your faith,” Lalonde said. “How are we supposed to reach these people who don’t even want to hear what we have to say? Well one of the best ways I’ve found is through movies.”

Lalonde himself became a Christian after hearing that Jesus was coming soon to save his followers before the Antichrist rose to global power, and human history ended at the battle of Armageddon. Lalonde was greatly influenced by the 1972 film, “A Thief in the Night,” which popularized that evangelical Christian vision of the End Times.

“A Thief in the Night” was never shown in theaters, however. It was a church-basement movie. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the 69-minute horror film about life under the Antichrist was screened more than 1,000 times per month to church camps and youth groups across the country. It was widely influential, but rarely shown to someone who wasn’t already involved with an evangelical church.

The “Left Behind” franchise, which started as a novel in 1995, was designed to reach beyond the church basement.

When the two co-authors met for the very first time in a Chicago airport hotel to discuss the project, this is what they talked about. Jerry B. Jenkins recalls in his book “Writing for the Soul” that he was skeptical of the idea. “A double-minded book,” he quipped, “is unstable in all its ways.” Tim LaHaye was insistent, though, and persuaded Jenkins to try.

It was a financial problem as much as anything else. Evangelical novels were sold only in Christian bookstores at the time. “Left Behind” changed that. It was sold at Wal-Mart and then at other retail outlets, eventually sprawling into a 16-part series with more than 65 million copies in print.

The film versions of “Left Behind” have struggled to replicate that success.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post
Daniel Silliman

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