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It was never gonna be easy to make a movie like Noah. It’s hard enough that you’re asking a studio to throw down nine figures for a Biblical story, as the Christian dollar is sought by Hollywood but still relatively untested. And this amount is being entrusted to Darren Aronofsky, a candid indie filmmaker who scored maybe the flukiest $300 million hit in the strange, beguilingly sexy Black Swan. It’s not a surprise that there’s been strife behind the scenes, as Aronofsky is famously prickly, with a distinct vision all his own.
And now it looks like the studio’s getting a mild case of cold feet in regards to the $120 million-budgeted Noah. The Wrap claims that early on, Paramount and Aronofsky agreed to market to those of Christian faith without pandering or making excuses, urging them to open their minds to an unusual interpretation to a beloved story. Instead, Paramount did not consult with the director and honored the wishes of the National Religious Broadcasters by labeling ads and promotional material with this message:
"The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis."Uh, duh? Why would you tell people where to find a story they already love? Why would you need to emphasize that a major studio version of this story made for religious and secular people is going to take liberties? Why feel the need to flatter a group whom you’ve already tossed $120 million towards one of their favorite stories, then spent another $50-$80 million marketing to them? At best, Paramount is making apologies for Aronofsky’s movie. At worse, they’re calling the audience idiots. This is basically like when studios court hardcore superhero nerd fans who represent only a tiny sliver of the audience by saying they’ve adapted some children’s comic where people wear funny costumes as if it were carved in stone. In this case, however, this isn’t a superhero comic, but rather the sort of beliefs that have previously led to wars and tragedy. It makes sense to soft-pedal things if you have no integrity, and no respect for Mr. Aronofsky.
While critics snored, this past weekend saw the massive success of Son of God, putting further pressure on Paramount to appeal to a group of filmgoers who don’t attend movies much and subscribe to a pretty stringent retelling of the Scriptures. Could this fuel a further emphasis on only one specific type of faith-based filmmaking? Or will Paramount relent to Aronofsky’s pressure, given that he’s reportedly "not happy" with this decision? We’ll find out soon, but in the meantime, take a look at this behind-the-scenes featurette about the making of the film that emphasizes the blood, sweat and tears that goes into putting together an endeavor this massive.