Noah Poster header Russell Crowe

This is what happens when a studio paints itself into a corner. Paramount co-financed Darren Aronofsky‘s Noah with the expectation that it would be able to market the film to faith-based audiences. But, surprise, surprise, what the studio got is a Darren Aronofsky film — something that isn’t exactly a strict adaptation of the book of Genesis.

Paramount and various religious groups have engaged in different ways over the past few months as the studio has courted a religious audience. Various cuts of the film have been tested, and the studio has been more aggressive in pushing the movie to the faith-based audience than a general one. But a couple weeks ago it seems like truth dawned: this is a Darren Aronosfky movie, and that’s not going to change. We’ll see his cut in theaters, and that’s all that really matters.

But one group claiming to advocate for religious audiences and broadcasters has pressured Paramount into adding a note to the film’s marketing, explaining that this is not the literal story of Noah, which instead can be found in Genesis. 

Here’s the note to be on Noah marketing, to which we were alerted by The Wrap.

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.

At first this seems like a lame move by Paramount, but what else can the studio do? It pursued this angle, and this is the fruit of that chase. In the end, this is a cheap way to assuage people who might otherwise pressure their audience to avoid the film.

More than anything else, this little preamble doesn’t even serve most religious people well. A small (but vocal) minority might be upset that this isn’t a strict take on the Noah of Genesis, but most viewers, no matter their faith, will understand implicitly that there’s some license taken here. Every bit of marketing for the movie alerts us to that fact, even without the note. I expect that many people of faith will scoff at this just as non-religious audiences might.

If you look at the homepage of the National Religious Broadcasters, the group which pressured Paramount into adding this note, you’ll notice that a new president was just installed for the group. That makes this look like a dick-swinging move on his part. “Look what the new guy can achieve!” That president, Jerry A. Johnson, said in a statement. ”However, my intent in reaching out to Paramount with this request was to make sure everyone who sees this impactful film knows this is an imaginative interpretation of Scripture, and not literal.”

So congrats, NRB, you’ve made your voice heard. You got the big Hollywood liberals to add a note that means nothing and even demeans the audience you claim to serve. Happy now?

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