China is the latest country to ban the blockbuster hit "Noah," one month after multiple Middle Eastern countries did the same.
Sources working with mainland China on behalf of Paramount Pictures, the production company behind "Noah," have told multiple media outlets that the film "will not release in China," without giving further explanation.
Another anonymous distribution source to The Hollywood Reporter said that the film, directed by Darren Aronofsky, was banned "for religious reasons, though it seems the whole issue was quite complicated."
Those promoting the film on the mainland told the Los Angeles Times that instead of focusing on Noah's relationship to the Bible, they were focusing on the film's high-quality special effects and environmental message to convince China's censors to carry the film, to no avail. Producers also created a 3-D version of "Noah" to appeal to international markets.
While some suggest China's censorship of Christianity is the reason for "Noah's" banning, others argue that the film was denied for commercial reasons, as several other big-name movies are set to be released in the Asian country in the coming weeks, including "Godzilla," and "The Amazing Spider-Man 2."
According to The Guardian, "Noah" is now missing out on the second-largest film market due to the China ban.
"Noah" has proven to be Aronofsky's highest grossing film. Since its release in March, the film has already surpassed $300 million in the international box office market, $100 million of which was from the U.S.
China has a quota of 34 foreign movies to be shown in the country per year based on a profit-share plan, but because the film was going to be sold in the country on a flat-fee basis, it was allowed to sidestep this quota. However, sidestepping the quota did not guarantee it would surpass the country's highly-sensitive censors.
"Noah," starring Russell Crowe, was also banned in countries with large Muslim populations, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. These countries cited the film's depiction of Noah as a prophet to God as the reason for their ban.
"Noah" has also received criticism from some in the American evangelical community, who argue the film provided too loose of an interpretation of the biblical story of "Noah" and the flood. The criticism grew so loud that in March, Paramount decided to include a disclaimer with all promotional material for "Noah" stating that although the film did take artistic license, it still stayed true to the essential meaning behind "Noah's" biblical origins.