At US debut controversy over 'Noah' fuels box office earnings

(Photo: REUTERS / Andrew Kelly)(L-R) Cast members Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly pose with director Darren Aronofsky during the U.S. premiere of "Noah" in New York March 26, 2014.

Noah succeeded in sweeping away the opposition at the U.S. box office with the biblical epic earning a hefty $44 million over its debut weekend with controversy fueling interest in the movie.

Scott Mendelson wrote in Forbes on Monday that the movie proved there is no such thing as "bad publicity" before screening such an epic, which Paramount said had a $125 million budget.

In The Independent, a British newspaper, Christopher Hooton wrote, "Noah director and self-professed atheist Darren Aronofsky has managed to make a secular film about a Bible figure, painting Noah as an 'environmentalist' in a film that doesn't mention God once."

Aronofsky's religious blockbuster featuring New Zealand-born Russell Crowe as ark-builder Noah is based on the story of the Great Flood and has drawn criticism for its interpretation from Christian, Jewish and Muslim groups.

In some Islamic countries the film has been boycotted or banned.

Noah movie poster

This actions stems from the depiction in the film of a prophet that is forbidden in some Islamic cultures.

Indonesia followed Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in banning the movie.

Zainut Tauhid Saadi, a member of the Indonesian Censorship Board, said, "We rejected the screening of the film in Indonesia.

"The visual depiction of a prophet is forbidden in Islam. The film will hurt both Christian and Muslim communities."

In Forbes Mendelson wrote all the news "kept Noah in the spotlight, which meant audiences darn-well knew it was coming out."

He noted, "I'm guessing the vast majority of the ticket buyers just said "Oh, Russell Crowe stars in a film about Noah, that sounds interesting' and bought their ticket accordingly."

The film has already made $22 million overseas after opening in Australia, Korea, Mexico and Russia.


The Israeli newspaper Haaretz carried a headline Monday: "Even God couldn't save the Hollywood version of Noah.

Neta Alexander wrote in the Haaretz article, "Did Tolkien write the Bible? Judging by the trailer for 'Noah,' that would seem to be the case. And the result? Well, 'Noah' belongs to the dubious category of awful movies that aren't quite bad enough to turn into cult films."

Alexander describes Aronofsky's adaptation of the story of Noah, which the director said in an interview with The New Yorker, is "the least Biblical film ever made" is "two hours-plus of a conceptual mess, without a single credible moment."

In this adaptation Noah is not only the only righteous man on the face of the Earth, he is also an awe-inspiring combination of Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian and Neo from 'The Matrix.'"

USA Today, however, ran a headline above Ashley McGuire's column: "Christians should buy tickets to 'Noah' .... Deviation from Bible doesn't detract from religious essence."

"The movie is an artistic feat, drawn with epic scope and soaring with strokes of surrealism and even science fiction. And while there are subplots that are not in the Bible, the key question Christians must ask is this: Do the artistic liberties detract from or enhance the essence of the story? Do they sabotage the religious themes or help to draw them out?

"The answer is plain: Aronofsky's rendering of Noah enhances and sharpens the story's themes – the resilience of life, the beauty of God's creation, the redemptive power of female fecundity, the way God works through the free-will assent of his people to advance his master plan," wrote McGuire who is a senior fellow with The Catholic Association.

Still, Faith Driven Consumer gave Noah a two star rating out of five.

"Noah theoretically has the high-caliber star power to deliver. However, the story's dark descent into a tale of Noah's derangement – coupled with a fanciful and unbiblical treatment of the Nephilim – turns what could have been a satisfying epic about sin, judgment and salvation into a strange combination of 'Mad Max', 'Transformers' and 'Water World,'" said the unsigned Faith Driven Consumer review.

"While the outlines of the Genesis account are there and some major biblical themes are taken seriously, the deviation from Scripture is too great to make up for the high production levels, Academy Award-winning cast and impressive special effects.

"Even movie-goers who aren't particularly faith-oriented will find Noah unsatisfying due to its slow pacing and uninteresting and unlikeable protagonist."

Steve Patton, a California pastor was quoted by The Christian Post says suggesting that the reaction of Christians might have had something to do with the faith background of those promoting Noah.

"I think because Noah is made by a known atheist (Darren Aronofsky), people are up in arms. Let me tell it- meh," Patton tweeted.

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