An organization that criticized the movie “Noah” for failing to relate to religious believers, says the coming movie based on the biblical book of Exodus will be an issue on which Christians, Jews and Muslims can agree.
But that won’t be good for the makers of “Exodus: Gods and Kings.”
“The portrayal of God as a willful, angry and petulant child in ‘Exodus’ will be a deal breaker for most people of faith around the world,” said Chris Stone, the founder of the North Carolina-based consumer advocacy group Faith Driven Consumer.
“Christians, Jews and Muslims alike see this story as foundational and will find this false portrayal and image of God to be deeply incompatible both with scriptures and their deeply held beliefs.”
Stone said Ridley Scott is “an established director who can essentially make whatever film he wants, but when he creates a film based on a pivotal biblical story and renders it significantly unrecognizable, the marketplace will respond negatively.”
He said Darren Aronofsky’s $125 million epic “Noah” “left untold millions on the table,” because it “failed to be faithful.”
Rather than learning from Aronofsky’s mistake he said,” it seems that Mr. Scott, with his own larger, $200 million epic, has elected to double down.”
Faith Driven Consumer, which describes itself as an advocate “for more than 41 million consumers who spend $2 trillion annually,” said “Exodus” comes to consumers in the final phase of 2014’s “Year of the Bible Movie.”
In the movie, God speaks through a young boy, Malak, played by 11-year-old Isaac Andrews.
“As a brand strategist, viewing it from the consumer’s perspective, I find many of Scott’s choices to be inconsistent with what the market wants. This is especially true given the significant untapped demand for these types of films – this one in particular,” said Stone.
“Evidently the filmmakers have a goal other than maximizing the film’s appeal and its monetary success,” he said of the decision to cast an 11-year-old boy as God.
The New York Times called the portrayal of God as a child “‘Children of the Corn’ terrifying,” alluding to a famed horror film.
The group points out that recent polls show 68 percent of the American public is unlikely to see the movie if it’s not biblically accurate.
The movie, which features plagues, waves, tornadoes, boat-chomping crocodiles, 400,000 digital Hebrew slaves and more, according to the Times, “preserves the awful severity of the Old Testament God – one who commands and demands.”
Stone’s group, Faith Driven Consumer, educates, equips and motivates “Faith Driven Consumers” to action in the marketplace of goods, services and ideas, offering resources for making more faith-conscious decisions, including reviews of companies and entertainment products.
See the trailer:
WND reported earlier the film, starring multiple Oscar-award winning actors and actresses, including Christian Bale Ben Kingsley, was raising concerns over whether it would be biblical.
The earlier “Noah” also boasted big-name talent and a blockbuster budget but took wild liberties with its biblical source material. By its director’s own admission, “Noah” was twisted into a tale far more about environmentalism than the judgment and mercy of God.
Consequently, Christians – who make up the majority of film-goers in America – largely panned the movie, and “Noah” required international ticket sales to avoid losing tens of millions of dollars.
“Our research shows that accuracy is a key to attracting people of faith,” said Stone, a certified brand strategist. “Biblical accuracy and compatibility with the story they know and why that story exists is very important. Any time you stray from that, you limit and narrow your audience.
“And if you narrow your audience by eliminating a large group of people inherently interested in your story,” Stone told WND, “it’s going to affect your result.”
Earlier this month, Christianity Today reported Christian Bale, who plays the part of Moses, told reporters in Los Angeles he has a gritty vision of the biblical hero.
“I think the man was likely schizophrenic and was one of the most barbaric individuals that I ever read about in my life,” the actor said of Moses. “He’s a very troubled and tumultuous man who fought greatly against God, against his calling.”
Stone said at the time: “If Bale’s point of view is that Moses was ‘schizophrenic and barbaric,’ that has to have impacted his portrayal.
“If I see that as a Christian, as a faith-driven viewer, I will sense – as I did in ‘Noah’ – the subtleties of the shift between the biblical story and the Hollywood interpretation. It’s going to impact my interest in seeing it, or if I do see it, whether I like it or not and whether I share that in a positive light with others. Word of mouth is a significant driver of box office success,” Stone said.
“What I think is even more telling, although subtle, is Ridley Scott saying neither Moses nor God caused the parting of the Red Sea, but it was an earthquake,” Stone said. “The story of Exodus was a battle, not between Moses and Pharaoh, but between God and Pharaoh and his (little “g”) gods. This was a spiritual battle.
“But if you look at the trailer and what Ridley Scott has been saying, they’re making an epic, ‘good guy versus bad guy,’ big battle, mega blockbuster,” Stone continued. “Audiences of faith may look at it and think, ‘This is my story, but it doesn’t look anything like my story,’ and that’s going to cause Christians, Jews and Muslims to pause. The three major world religions may say, ‘That’s not my story.’ And that will be a problem for ‘Exodus.'”
Faith-driven consumers make up, according to American Insights polling, 17 percent of the adult population in the U.S. Among this group, 96 percent say their faith has a major influence on their entertainment choices. Faith-driven consumers, the stats indicate, are also more likely to recommend a movie than the wider Christian market and more likely to discourage others from watching a movie that conflicts with their values.
Significantly, 84 percent of faith-driven consumers rate how a movie reflects the Bible as “very important,” while only 51 percent of the wider Christian culture rates biblical accuracy the same.