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Noah biblical epic draws negative response from Christians in tests

Story by Jack Foley

DARREN Aronofsky’s Biblical epic Noah has reportedly drawn a negative response from test screenings across America.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, feedback from Christian and Jewish audiences is said to have been “worrisome”, particularly as the film has now surpassed its $125m (£78m) budget.

The report states that screenings have been held at venues in New York, Arizona and Orange County to allow for religious diversity.

And the lukewarm response has prompted talk of a potential rift between distributor Paramount and director Aronofsky.

The film is based on the story of Noah, as he warns of an impending flood and builds an ark to carry two of each species of animal to safety when his words go unheeded.

Russell Crowe plays the title role and is joined by Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Ray Winstone.

It is currently due for release next March (2014).

News of the negative test screenings is the latest setback for Noah, which has already received its fair share of poor publicity.

Last year, for instance, a version of the script was described as “environmentalist wacko” by screenwrriter Brian Godawa after he had obtained it, as well as “an uninteresting and unbiblical waste of a hundred and fifty million dollars”.

There is also concern about the look of some of the animals in the film, which by Aronofsky’s own admission have been “brought to life with different furs and colours”. There is also a heavy CGI component so that the filmmakers didn’t have to use real animals.

However, in a bid to play down the report, Rob Moore, vice chairman of Paramount, told The Hollywood Reporter that the film was undergoing a “normal preview process” and the result will be “one version of the movie that Darren is overseeing”.

He dismissed speculation that Paramount had fallen out with Aronofsky, pointing out that while the director “definitely wants some level of independence… he also wants a hit movie”.

“We’re getting to a very good place, and we’re getting there with Darren,” he added.

Aronofsky is not known for being a mainstream director, even though his biggest hit, Black Swan, was a massive financial success and earned its leading lady, Natalie Portman, an Oscar.

One previous blockbuster attempt, The Fountain (starring Hugh Jackman), was a critical and commercial flop, while his other films have erred towards the leftfield or indie, with films such as Pi, Requiem For A Dream and The Wrestler.

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