In response to the controversy about the forthcoming blockbuster "Noah," Paramount Pictures has released a disclaimer that the film, while it accurately presents the biblical themes, has taken some license in storytelling.
"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," declares the statement, which will be presented in all future marketing materials. It closes by directing viewers to the biblical story found in Genesis.
This move follows an appeal from Jerry A. Johnson, president and CEO of The National Religious Broadcasters. "People may assume that this film is a straightforward retelling of the biblical Noah narrative – The movie trailer might lead them to believe that as well," Johnson wrote to The Christian Post in a Friday statement. "It is not. It is instead a dramatic story based upon Noah that contains a lot of extra-biblical material," the NRB president explained.
Many critics have denounced the film for biblical inaccuracies. The Hollywood Reporter reported that Christian viewers at a pre-screening "questioned the film's adherence to the Bible story and reacted negatively to the intensity and darkness of the lead character." A survey of "Faith Driven Consumers" revealed that 98 percent would not be "satisfied with a biblically themed movie – designed to appeal to you – which replaces the Bible's core message with one created by Hollywood."
Dan Gainor, vice president of Business and Culture for The Media Research Center, told CP earlier, "It's laughable what's in the trailers." "This is not some attempt to tell the Bible story – they want to make it into an Action/Adventure."
Gainor claimed that Hollywood often uses a real story as an excuse to exaggerate events and twist the meaning of a story to fit its agenda. "This movie is an insult to anybody who follows the Bible story," he declared.
Other critics defended the film as an accurate portrayal of biblical themes.
Ted Baehr, chairman of the Christian Film and Television Coalition and Editor-in-Chief of Movieguide, countered that "the primary message that comes out of the film is the depravity of man and the judgment of God." He argued that the film remained true to the themes of the biblical story of Noah despite some additions.
The themes of man's depravity and God's judgment lead to the Christian message that "you need a real savior who is Jesus Christ," Baehr explained. He declared that the film's key theme "coheres with a biblical theology."
The Response of Faith-Driven Consumers
Faith Driven Consumer, which tracks the commercial viability of major Hollywood films courting faith audiences throughout 2014 and released the 98 percent poll referred to above, thanked Paramount Pictures for releasing this disclaimer. This move "gives us a sense that Paramount is taking steps to respect, connect with and reach out to the core faith audience of this film," said Faith Driven Consumer Founder Chris Stone.
"The Faith Driven Consumer community is eager for entertainment choices that resonate with them, and we will continue to encourage Hollywood as it works with us to provide those options," Stone added. His organization promised reviews of the forthcoming biblical films based on the criteria of biblical relevance, faith-compatible depiction of characters and situations, family suitability, and entertainment value.
The studio company thanked NRB for suggesting a disclaimer. "We are deeply appreciative of Dr. Johnson's efforts to bring this idea to us," Rob Moore, vice chairman of Paramount Pictures, said in a press release.
"Our goal has been to take every measure we can to ensure moviegoers have the information they need before deciding to buy a ticket to see the film," Moore explained.
Johnson thanked the studio for choosing a Bible story. "It is a significant and welcome development when a leading Hollywood studio like Paramount makes a major film about a story from the Bible," the NRB president stated. He encouraged Christians to "be ready to engage … about the main biblical themes that are portrayed in the film, namely sin, judgment, and salvation."
In his statement to CP, Johnson added that the 1998 DreamWorks film "Prince of Egypt" adopted the same kind of disclaimer following "similar conversations with the Christian community."