Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore has commented on the notable box office success of Darren Aronofsky's "Noah," noting that critics like Creation Museum's Ken Ham are a "vocal minority."
"There are two groups of people: one that is excited that Hollywood has made a blockbuster based on the Bible and book of Genesis, and a small vocal minority who don't think it's OK to make a movie that isn't literal and who don't have the respect to let people evaluate it for themselves. Darren took a lot of creative license in telling a story from the Bible," Moore told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday.
He added that Ken Ham "has become the guy who continues to take to the microphone criticizing the film ... and who has tried to keep the spotlight on himself. But there are a lot of credible religious leaders, including the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez (president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference), who have come out saying this is a movie people should see."
"Noah," starring Russell Crowe in the titular role, made close to $44 million in its domestic debut over the weekend. The worldwide total as of Monday is over $97 million. The Paramount-distributed film had a production budget of $125 million.
The controversy surrounding the film has centered on the "creative license" it took on the biblical tale, with some conservative Christians, including Ham and evangelist and filmmaker Ray Comfort, who released his own version of the story days before the Hollywood release, arguing that the Hollywood movie will do more harm than good.
"Sure, after watching the film, people could be directed to read the true story for themselves in the Bible," said Ham, who supports a literal interpretation of Genesis. "But in this day and age, young people have a hard time deciphering reality from fiction and don't often take the time to form their own educated opinions."
Many other Christian leaders defended the film, however, including Salvation Army Vision Network Executive Director Guy Noland, who said it was a "fun, action-packed, biblical epic that manages to champion the spirit of the Genesis tale while ensuring mass appeal."
"The film will undoubtedly introduce millions of souls to the scriptures who will likely never pick up a Bible on their own," Noland said. "'Noah' presents an open door to talking with my unchurched friends about the true living Word of God."
When asked about the controversy, Moore, who has called himself a devout Christian, said that the filmmakers knew the movie would be "complicated."
"'Noah' was never going to get unanimity. It had been a long time since there had been a biblical spectacle on the big screen. The biggest issue with 'Noah,' and what caused the debate, is the fact that it is inspired by the Bible, and not a literal adaptation. It is OK to have art inspired by the Bible. But the biggest thing we learned from the preview process is that this is what was holding people back," he said.
"Once we told them it wasn't literal, people responded to it very differently. This was a huge turning point. The other important element was that we told people that 'Noah' was consistent with themes in the Bible. The National Religious Broadcasters put out a press release talking about the change in the marketing campaign, and this also helped communicate these points," the Paramount vice chairman added, referring to the disclaimer attached to "Noah" promo material that explained that the movie is only inspired by the Bible, and pointed people to read the story in Genesis.