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Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ earned that big money can be made at the box office by appealing to the religious community, but it is for that reason that Paramount Pictures is apparently nervous about Darren Aronofsky's Noah. The studio has been testing the film with multiple demographics, including both largely Jewish and Christian audiences, and now, according to The Hollywood Reporter, they are locked in a battle with the director over the final cut of the movie that will head to theaters early next year.
While the trade doesn't have any first person reactions from the screenings in New York, Arizona and Orange County, California, sources have told them that the showings "generated troubling reactions" (though its not exactly clear what that means). When reached for comment Aronofsky and his camp did not respond, but Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore told THR that the movie is undergoing a "normal review process" that they hope will produce "one version of the movie that Darren is overseeing."
What's rather unclear at this point is whether or not Aronofksy was able to negotiate rights to final cut when he was first crafting the deal with Paramount to make the movie. Going into the production the filmmaker had more clout than he has had his entire career, as he was coming off the incredibly successful Black Swan - which both made more than $300 million at the global box office and earned Natalie Portman her first Oscar. A talent rep close to the production told the trade, "Darren is not made for studio films. He's very dismissive. He doesn't care about [Paramount's] opinion."
From a studio perspective, there's a lot on the line. As you can probably imagine, given that this film is a biblical epic, the project came with a big price tag. It was initially reported that the movie would have a $125 million budget, but THR suggests that number has already been toppled (and they haven't even really started marketing the movie yet).
Noah is a new interpretation of the famous biblical story and stars Russell Crowe in the titular role, working to collect two of every animal on an ark before God can flood the Earth. It was recently revealed that the film will only feature CGI animals and that they have been slightly tweaked as to not appear exactly like the creatures we see roaming the world today. Aronofsky co-wrote the screenplay with John Logan and the impressive supporting cast includes Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Mark Margolis, Logan Lerman and Douglas Booth. Paramount currently has the movie dated to be released on March 28, 2014, but depending on how this whole conflict between the studio and the filmmaker turns out that could very well change. Stay tuned for more on this story as more updates come in.