Posted on Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 by Russ Fischer
We’ve wondered for months which cut of Darren Aronosfky‘s Noah would land in theaters when the film opens in March. Reports of numerous test screenings have floated around for quite a while, and gossip around LA has whispered stories of different editors working on various cuts of the film at Paramount’s bequest. With industry talk of a schism between Paramount and Aronofsky when it came for a vision for the film, there was reason to wonder if we would see the director’s version, not when we would see it.
And while Aronofsky now says “there was a rough patch,” the current word is that none of the Paramount cuts tested any better than execs thought the director’s own version would d.,Paramount has now accepted, and even embraced Aronofsky’s Noah for what it is, and will release the director’s cut.
THR has a big piece on the film, explaining that the test screenings, which were done despite Aronofsky’s objections, were in part a studio effort to “appease a small but vocal segment of the faith-based audience.” Aronofsky’s cut has never been tested, he says, while Paramount showed audiences as many as six versions. ”I was upset — of course. No one’s ever done that to me,” said Aronofsky. Cuts that were shown to test audiences weren’t finished, and longer than the final 2-hour, 12-minute film, with only about ten percent of the music in place.
The precise reason for the studio’s decision to embrace the director’s version of the film isn’t entirely clear, but Aronofsky insists that the film he and Ari Handel wrote was pretty air-tight:
My guys and I were pretty sure that because of the nature of the film and how we work, there wasn’t another version. That’s what I told them … the scenes were so interconnected — if you started unwinding scenes, I just knew there would be holes. I showed it to filmmaker friends, and they said the DNA was set in this film.
The end result may be all that matters. (There’s even a bit of a conflict in the report, which says the Paramount versions tested no better than Aronofsky’s did… then quotes the director saying “my version of the film hasn’t been tested … It’s what we wrote and what was green lighted.”) While there’s still a push to appeal to faith-based audiences, it seems like Paramount is now able to accept that it got exactly the movie it (and New Regency) paid for.
Rob Moore of Paramount says, “[Films like the History Channel Bible movies] have been very effective in terms of communicating to and being embraced by a Christian audience. This movie has a lot more creativity to it. And therefore, if you want to put it on the spectrum, it probably is more accurate to say this movie is inspired by the story of Noah.” The emphasis there is ours, but it does point to Paramount trying to find some middle ground in pushing the material to various audiences.
And middle ground exists in the director’s mind, too. He says he wanted to make both ”this fantastical world a la Middle-earth that they wouldn’t expect from their grandmother’s Bible school” and also a movie that will appeal to those “who take this very, very seriously as gospel…I had no problem completely honoring and respecting everything in the Bible and accepting it as truth.”
Aronofsky explained his own vision in more detail:
We wanted to smash expectations of who Noah is. The first thing I told Russell is, ‘I will never shoot you on a houseboat with two giraffes behind you.’ … You’re going to see Russell Crowe as a superhero, a guy who has this incredibly difficult challenge put in front of him and has to overcome it.
That challenge may still exist for Aronofsky and the film, too, but we’re happy to know it’s his version that we’ll see on screens March 28.