The film is based on the first book Left Behind, and it focuses on the hours immediately following the Rapture. It does not cover everything that the first book includes, but it concentrates on the first few hours and the chaos of the world in the wake of millions of people vanishing with no explanation.
PreproductionIn 2008, Cloud Ten Pictures had gone into a legal settlement that ended in 2010 with them keeping the rights to the film series. It was then revealed in 2011 that John Patus and Paul Lalonde, who had previously worked on Left Behind: World at War, had written the screenplay for the remake. On October 19, 2012, Vic Armstrong had been picked to direct the film, and initial casting went underway.
- Nicholas Cage as Rayford Steele
- Lea Thomson as Irene Steele
- Cassi Thomson as Chloe Steele
- Major Dodson as Raymie Steele
- Chad Michael Murray as Buck Williams
- Nicky Whelan as Hattie Durham
- Lance Nichols as Bruce Barnes
- Jordin Sparks as Shasta Carwell, a passenger
- Quinton Aaron as Simon, a news cameraman
- William Ragsdale as Christopher Smith
- Georgina Rawlings as Venice Baxter, a troubled airplane passenger
- Martin Klebba as Melvin Weir
- Judd Lormand as Jim
- Lolo Jones as Lori, an airport gate attendant (cameo role)
- Han Soto as Edwin
Left Behind: The Movement
Within anticipation of the film, there was already a fan social media campaign to be an outreach to believers and non-believers with a premise of: 'There should be individuals standing by (outside the movie theater) to answer questions and offer prayer for individuals who chose to accept Christ due to the message behind the Left Behind movie.'
This was seen as a great opportunity for pastors and other preachers to preach the Rapture and/or other 2nd Coming ideology based on their understanding of scripture with the ideology of the film.
Another social media campagn are fictious listings on Facebook and Instagram for New Hope Church as if it were a real world place. However, the pages cite that the location is in Garden City, New York which would be a change from the original Mount Prospect, Illinois location but in the film it is actually Long Island.
If it is somewhat part of this movement, an authorized church youth ministry rescource kit is available for $70 as a six-week religious course touching upon the main points of the film.
Differences from the novel
- Originally, the rapture occurred around midnight EST while characters were sleeping in their beds to be literally consistent with Bible scripture. In the film, it occurs mid-day for dramatic scenes.
- For dramatic scenes, PCA Flight 257 is involved with a mid-air collision when it clips another plane in the sky that had lost both its pilot and co-pilot. The right wing becomes damaged and catches fire which makes the plane lose fuel. Due to various planes still in the sky amid airport troubles, Rayford had to land the plane dangerously inland near a mall. Also, a voice mail accidentally recorded during the incident made Chloe think her father died. None of this occurred in the novel as Rayford got the plane back to O'Hare without any further incident.
- With the movie set in Long Island, it left and was supposed to land at JFK whereas in the novel it was O'Hare in Chicago.
- Cameron "Buck" Williams is a television news reporter for Global News Network instead of a magazine editor for Global Weekly.
- New Hope Church is located in Long Island, New York instead of Mount Prospect, Illinois.
- The decision to make a remake/reboot is the fact that it has been eight years since Left Behind: World at War was made, and therefore it was felt impossible to make a "Left Behind 4".
- Nicolae Carpathia does not appear in this film, but he will likely appear in the 2nd movie.
- The word "Rapture" is never used, this likely is in relation to the word never actually appearing in the Bible.
- The set for the fateful Pan-Continental Flight 257 that was in the air while the Rapture occurred is the same one that was used for Oceanic Airline Flight 815 in the hit TV series Lost.
- In relation of the plane, the flight to London was supposed to take 6 hours and 30 minutes.
- Shasta got a gun from the air marshall on the plane after he vanished. We see his empty holster on the seat a number of times. Rayford later tells Buck "I forgot all about him".
- The manager of the Mall of Louisiana makes a small cameo as he rides an escalator during a mall scene. Many people think this is Tim because of how they look, but this is not true.
- Actresses Lea and Cassi Thomson who play Irene and Chole Steele respectfully are not related in real life, but have played mother and daughter-in-law before on the ABC Family series Switched at Birth.
- It is semi-notable that although they are married, Rayford and Irene do not share a scene together.
- Actress Ashley Tisdale was first stated for the role of Chloe Steele in many pre-production promotional posters along with a short MTV interview about the role, but as filming started it was announced on August 9th that she would be leaving due to a scheduling conflict for a television opportunity; Ironically, it was also because of a scheduling conflict that had Janaya Stephens play Chloe instead of Lacey Chabert in the orginal Left Behind: The Movie and its two sequels.
- Paul Lalonde who as the co-founder of Cloud Ten Pictures has hinted that there will be a sequel that is already in pre-production via social media (Left Behind 2). This presumably will be a more faithful adaptation of Tribulation Force than that of the 2002 film along with the rest of story from the first novel. The film's website also states: There are plans for a series of “Left Behind” movies. Lalonde has already confirmed that two sequels are being planned, and the 2nd film was greenlit even before the first one was released.
- He also considers the first film as the "Pilot episode" of the film series.