Home Entertainment Looks like Paramount is rocking the boat over the final cut of Darren Aronofsky's "worrisome" NOAH

Looks like Paramount is rocking the boat over the final cut of Darren Aronofsky's "worrisome" NOAH

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Despite achieving a fair amount of widespread recognition and acclaim, Darren Aronofsky is not what you would call a mainstream director. He’s shown several times in the past that he’s not willing to flinch from his dramatic vision for a film, four quadrant appeal be damned (Requiem for a Dream, anyone?). The thing is though, none of those previous films needed a cheque as big as the one Paramount wrote for his latest film, the Biblical Flood epic Noah.

And when those many dollar signs are involved, you can expect that the studio will want to protect its investment by making it as palatable to as many potential viewers as possible. Problem is, Aronofsky isn’t playing along.

Darren_Aronofsky_11

According to reports from THR, the studio recently hosted test screenings to make sure that the heavily effects driven, $130 million film would go down well enough with cinemagoers – particularly religious cinemagoers, based on its subject matter – to be able to recoup its cost. Those screenings were broken down into three very specific focus groups, namely a largely Christian audience in Arizona, a largely Jewish audience in New York, and then a “general public” audience in Orange County.

Unfortunately, multiple sources indicate that despite the usual box-office bait all-star cast of Russell Crowe (as the titular Biblical character), Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Ray Winstone and others, all the screenings produced “worrisome results”. Maybe it was the 11-foot tall angel-like beings known as Watchers, or the fully digitally rendered fantastical, made-up animals that threw audiences for a loop? Whether it was Aronofsky’s not-quite Sunday School approach to the tale – apparently the film features a third act that’s different from the traditionally, not quite exciting conclusion of Noah and his family just surviving the flood and finding land – or something else entirely that’s putting audiences off it, the fact remains that Paramount drastically want some changes made.

And Aronofsky, is apparently just ignoring all the screams and pleas coming his way. According to one source with ties to the project, “Darren is not made for studio films. He’s very dismissive. He doesn’t care about [Paramount’s] opinion.”

Writer Brian Godawa hasn’t seen the current cut of the film, but he managed to get hold of the script last year, and posted his thoughts on it, saying that Noah will be “an uninteresting and unbiblical waste of a hundred and fifty million dollars that will ruin for decades the possibility of making a really great and entertaining movie of this Bible hero.”

Noah Screen shot 2013-06-28 at 9.53.56 AM

Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore is a bit more optimistic about it, saying that despite the current tussle between Aronofsky and the studio, the film is just going through a “normal review process” and that the final cut will simply be “one version of the movie that Darren is overseeing.” He added that he knew that Aronofsky “definitely wants some level of independence, [but] he also wants a hit movie.”

With that in mind the studio expected some complications, which is why they “allowed for a very long postproduction period, which allowed for a lot of test screenings,” and the “bottom line” is that “[they’re] getting to a very good place, and [they’re] getting there with Darren.”

Now it’s just left to find out if audiences will join them as well. We’ll find that out when Noah sets sail in cinemas on March 28, 2014.

Last Updated: October 18, 2013

10 Comments

  1. $130 mil for a biblical film? Now I can add “wow!” to “why?”

    Reply

    • Kervyn Cloete

      October 18, 2013 at 10:47

      Sets and visual effects. Apparently, there are some scenes where there is so much CGI being used, that the only real thing on the screen are the actors’ faces.

      Reply

    • James Francis

      October 18, 2013 at 12:02

      It’s not a Biblical film – the graphic novel takes a lot of liberties. In fact, it seems moronic that the studio is trying to pitch it towards that audience.

      Reply

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        October 18, 2013 at 12:47

        I sure as hell didn’t know that. I would never in a million years have thought there’d be a graphic novel about Noah.

        Reply

        • Kervyn Cloete

          October 18, 2013 at 13:29

          To be fair, its not like your usual graphic novel adaptations. Aronofsky had this idea for a Noah story since he was a kid, but before he tried to turn it into a movie, he thought he would float the idea first to audiences. So he penned the graphic novel, and it ended up being sort of like a very well illustrated storyboard for the final product, that he could sell to studios.

          There are obviously changes to the story, because what works on the page doesn’t always work on the screen and vice versa, but it was a good blueprint, I guess.

          Oh and if you want to get your hands on it, it’s kind of difficult as it was only officially published in France as “Noe”. I know Image are going to do a US publishing, but I don’t know when that will happen.

          Reply

      • Kervyn Cloete

        October 18, 2013 at 13:20

        Well, it’s still the story of Noah, a very famous Biblical character, so while they may not be pitching it directly at the Christians/Jews/etc, they must know that it’s going to grab their attention the most, and thus they need to make sure they don’t chase away that huge potential audience.

        Reply

        • James Francis

          October 18, 2013 at 13:47

          I don’t disagree, but I think movies that target a religious audience should resonate certain things they’d expect. For example, Passion of the Christ worked because the brutality of Jesus’ death is a strong theme in Christian beliefs. But a French graphic novel being adapted into a movie by Aronofsky ? It can only be a biblical epic in theme, not a film catering to the value expectations of a religious audience.

          Reply

          • Kervyn Cloete

            October 18, 2013 at 16:09

            Oh I definitely agree. I’d rather have a film that ended up badly, but was what the director intended it to be, than one that was manipulated into wishy-washiness by a committee.

          • Acornbread

            December 2, 2013 at 09:04

            As long as we see his vision in a director’s cut I’m happy, let the cinema release be gimped. 😛

  2. DarthofZA

    October 18, 2013 at 10:09

    They should make a biblical film based on Joshua when he went into war. Granted, it would be full of sex and drunkenness, and to do it properly would require intense violence that would warrant a 18 age restriction, but it would be epic. Presuming they stick to the source material and not dumb it down to be a family movie..

    Reply

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