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Earlier, we pointed out the fallacy of a reported faith-driven poll led by Faith Driven Consumer that trumpeted a misleading headline claiming 98% of Christians are "not satisfied" by Hollywood’s attempts to tell important Biblical stories like the one that audiences are expecting to see in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. But the way the question was worded basically could ONLY lead to faith-based participants slamming a movie like Aronofsky’s. Mack slapped the study down in his well-thought piece. Now Paramount’s weighing in on what could be viewed as an attack.
In a statement shared with us, Paramount "strongly disputes the inaccurate media story" first shared by Variety claiming that viewers are unsatisfied with Biblical movies that are supposed to appeal to this faith-driven (and decidedly large) audience.
The survey question that had the 98% response rate did not contain any reference to the film Noah, despite the fact that the Variety reporting implied that it did, and research from industry leading firms about the upcoming epic paints a very different picture.
In fact, the studio cites its own supported survey, this one conducted by the traditional Nielsen’s National Research Group, which suggests that 83% of self-defined "very religious" moviegoers who are aware of Noah with six weeks to go before its release "have expressed interest in seeing the film." Meanwhile, the research organization Barna Group – which regularly polls people at the intersection of faith and culture -- reported that 86% of Christian survey participants "said they would recommend Noah to their friends." Paramount quotes Barna Group president David Kinnaman as saying:
"On our survey conducted over February 13th through February 15th, we found the majority of pastors would recommend that people see the film Noah."
This is devolving into he-said/she-said. And it’s sad that Paramount had to go into reaction mode in response to a story that took swipes at Aronofsky’s movie without ever asking individuals about the movie, specifically. Part of me understands. Ever since Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ broke the bank, studios have been trying to crack the formula to repeat such success… and it helps to have the support of a large, Christian audience when you are putting out a movie like Noah.
But the movie remains the selling point. Though the studio is within their right to respond to such blindsiding claims, these numbers won’t play as big of a part in convincing audiences to see the movie as the finished film can and will. If Aronofsky has made an excellent movie, reviews and positive word of mouth will drown out pre-release surveys that possibly hide an agenda. The best response to any survey like this is to release a fantastic film. The movie can and will stand on its own, and we’ll know what Paramount has to work with shortly when the movie hits theaters on March 28.