US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Image Credit: AFP

Former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have their first film hit with ‘Leave the World Behind’, an apocalyptic thriller released on Netflix on December 8.

The two-hour plus film about what happens when the electricity mysteriously goes out in the US is Netflix’s No. 1 picture globally and in the top position in 85 countries, according to FlixPatrol, which tracks viewing on streaming services.

Market researcher Samba TV estimated that 2.6 million US households watched ‘Leave the World’ Behind in its first two days, 73% more than ‘The Killer’, another big Netflix release last month.

Co-produced by the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions, the picture stars Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali and Ethan Hawke. It was directed and co-produced by Sam Esmail, known for the TV series ‘Mr Robot’.

The Obamas founded Higher Ground in 2018 “to tell powerful stories that entertain, inform and inspire" - while elevating new and diverse voices in the entertainment industry,” according to the company’s website.

They’ve had varying degrees of success. Their 2019 film, ‘American Factory,’ won the Oscar for best documentary feature, and podcasts such as ‘Renegades: Born in the USA,’ featuring the former president in conversation with music icon Bruce Springsteen have also drawn acclaim.

‘Leave the World Behind’ has also drawn the attention of Elon Musk for a scene featuring self-driving Teslas in a multicar pileup. Musk replied to Netflix’s post of the scene on X, his social platform, saying: “Teslas can charge from solar panels even if the world goes fully Mad Max and there is no more gasoline!”