It’s the end of the world all over again!
There was big news about two apocalyptic franchises this week.
Both of these franchises have somewhat complicated histories.
Regarding The Omen:
- The original film spawned two big-screen sequels — 1978’s Damien: Omen II (easily my favorite of the series) and 1981’s The Final Conflict — that charted the growth to adulthood and ultimate demise of the Antichrist, whose name was Damien Thorn. The third film even ended with the Second Coming of Jesus.
- Then, a TV-movie — 1991’s Omen IV: The Awakening — revealed that Damien had fathered a young girl, and that life on Earth had apparently continued like normal for at least another decade after the Second Coming.
- Then, there was a big-screen remake — 2006’s The Omen — that was produced partly to cash in on the release date, June 6 2006 (i.e. 6/6/06).
- Then, there was a short-lived TV series — 2016’s Damien — the existence of which I had completely forgotten until I checked this blog’s archives and realized I had posted the trailer here. The series was apparently a direct sequel to the original film and ignored all the other films, similar perhaps to how the Exorcist TV series — which also premiered in 2016 — ignored all of the other sequels and prequels to the original 1973 film in that franchise.
And now there’s going to be a prequel to the original version of The Omen, which I assume will again ignore all of the other follow-ups to that film. Here’s my question: Will it be a period piece? Will it take place before the 1970s? Will the franchise still hold that the Antichrist was born in the 1970s, in which case he would now be in his 50s, in which case it would seem kind of odd that he hasn’t tried to take over the world yet? Or will the timeline shift a bit, so that the original film now takes place in the 1980s or 1990s and the Antichrist is now in his 30s or 40s? Is it even possible that the prequel might take place “today”, which would push the End Times off even further into the future?
As for Left Behind:
- The franchise began as a series of 16 novels, co-written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, and published between 1995 and 2007. Another 40 novels were produced for teens during that period under the heading Left Behind: The Kids.
- The first two books were adapted into a trilogy of straight-to-video movies between 2000 and 2005, starring Brad Johnson as airline pilot Rayford Steele, Kirk Cameron as Cameron “Buck” Williams, and Gordon Currie as the Antichrist.
- The film franchise was rebooted in 2014, with a movie starring Nicolas Cage as Steele and Chad Michael Murray as Williams. (No Antichrist this time.)
- A movie based on the teen-oriented novels, Vanished – Left Behind: Next Generation, came out in 2016, starring LaHaye’s grandson Randy as the Antichrist.
And now there’s a new film starring God’s Not Dead’s Kevin Sorbo (who also directs) as Steele, Greg Perrow as Williams, and Neal McDonough as… well, that’s the question, isn’t it. If, as per the photo at the top of this post, he’s speaking at a microphone in front of a United Nations banner, then it does kind of suggest he’s the new Antichrist. But the image’s filename is “LeftBehind_NM-Stonagal”, which suggests McDonough might be playing Jonathan Stonagal, a financier who helps the Antichrist rise to power.
For what it’s worth, the Variety story treats the casting as a new thing, but the involvement of these actors was revealed months ago on the film’s official Facebook page.
Also, Variety says the new film is a “sequel” to the 2014 film, but Wikipedia indicates it may be yet another “reboot”, albeit one that takes place “six months after the events of the 2014 film.” Certainly the two films don’t seem to have any actors in common.
The First Omen is currently in development and has not yet been greenlit. Left Behind: Rise of the Antichrist is currently aiming for a theatrical release in October of this year.