Will “Noah” sink or swim at the box office?
The latest Hollywood production of a Bible event is packed with big-name stars including Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson and Anthony Hopkins, but test screenings across the country so far reportedly show audiences rejecting the film.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, writer and director Darren Aronofsky is at odds with Paramount Pictures over the final cut of a $125 million biblical epic that tells the story of Noah and his immediate family, the only people who survived an ancient flood aboard a giant ark.
“In recent weeks, the studio has held test screenings for key groups that might take a strong interest in the subject matter: in New York (for a largely Jewish audience), in Arizona (Christians) and in Orange County, Calif. (general public),” Hollywood Report says. “All are said to have generated troubling reactions.”
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Among the concerns is the perception of non-reality.
Hollywood Reporter states: “The use of visual effects has been so extensive that in some scenes, only an actor’s face is in the final image. The film relies on effects to create the flood, of course, but in addition, Noah doesn’t feature any real animals. Aronofsky said the creatures in the film are ‘slightly tweaked’ versions of those that exist in nature, and there also are fantastical beings in the mix.”
“Beyond the visuals, a major challenge has been coming up with an exciting third act that doesn’t alienate the potentially huge Christian audience (in the Bible, Noah and the ark’s inhabitants survive the flood that destroys the Earth). Some in the faith community already have expressed skepticism about the result, especially after writer Brian Godawa in October 2012 obtained a version of the Noah script and posted his summary online under the heading, ‘Darren Aronofsky’s Noah: Environmentalist Wacko.’ (Aronofsky has in the past described Noah as ‘the first environmentalist.’) Among his conclusions is that Noah will be ‘an uninteresting and unbiblical waste of a hundred and fifty million dollars that will ruin for decades the possibility of making a really great and entertaining movie of this Bible hero.’”
“Mark Joseph, who has consulted on the marketing of films including ‘Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’ and ‘Ray,’ says he hasn’t been to a screening of Noah but fears it is ‘an example of a director not listening to those voices that would have been warning of the dangers of veering too far away from the biblical text. The director is there to serve the studio and the audience, not veer off into directions that go against the core audience’s beliefs – at least if the goal is to get them to come to the theater.’”
Meanwhile, Ted Baehr of Movieguide.org has sources who tell him the film will be “incredibly redemptive” and “God-centered.”
Rob Moore, vice chairman at Paramount, says “Noah,” which is set for release in March, is currently going through a “normal preview process” and the result will be “one version of the movie that Darren is overseeing.”
Hollywood versions of Bible stories have often strayed from Holy Scripture.
Just this year, in fact, in “The Bible” TV series, which was produced by the Christian couple Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, young children were shown to be aboard Noah’s ark, when Scripture indicates only Noah’s grown and married children joined Noah and his wife aboard the vessel.
It also included an angel turning into a Ninja-style warrior wielding two swords and embarking on an expertly choreographed, slow-motion stabbing spree to slay the wicked men of Sodom, as can be seen in the following video clip:
According to the Old Testament, angels merely struck the citizens of Sodom with blindness before God firebombed the entire city. The TV series did include those elements as well. The show, however, did not mention the rampant homosexuality in Sodom, or that the city’s men actually sought to have sex with the angels. (Genesis 19:5)
In 1999, a laughable TV movie called “Noah’s Ark” was aired, featuring Jon Voight as Noah.
The producers included Lot in the flood story, though according to the Bible, Lot did not even exist until generations after the deluge, as he was the nephew of the patriarch Abraham. The TV movie also showed Lot as a survivor of the flood.