Paramount Pictures rejected the findings of a recent survey that revealed 98 percent of religious moviegoers were not satisfied with Darren Aronofsky's upcoming biblical epic "Noah," and pointed to other surveys that show 86 percent of Christians aware of the film would recommend it to friends.
"The survey question that had the 98% response rate did not contain any reference to the film 'NOAH,' despite the fact that the Variety reporting implied that it did, and research from industry leading firms about the upcoming epic paints a very different picture," Paramount said in a statement, citing the story by Variety.
The survey was conducted by Faith Driven Consumer. It asked supporters online over several days if they were "satisfied with a biblically themed movie – designed to appeal to you – which replaces the Bible's core message with one created by Hollywood." The survey question did not specifically refer to "Noah." Notably, however, the question was asked with the survey title: "Noah Movie Controversy?" and the page where the question was asked also included a summary about the controversy surrounding "Noah," namely how it veers too far away from the biblical account.
The 98 percent figure was based on more than 5,000 responses, according to Faith Driven Consumer, and the survey's margin of error is 1.38 percent.
Paramount Pictures, meanwhile, cited Nielsen's National Research Group which found that 83 percent of self-defined "very religious" moviegoers have expressed interest in seeing "Noah." Barna Group also found that 86 percent of Christian respondents who are aware of the film would recommend it to friends.
Barna Group's president, David Kinnaman, reportedly commented: "On our survey conducted over February 13th through February 15th, we found the majority of pastors would recommend that people see the film 'Noah.'"
"Noah," which stars Academy Award winner Russell Crowe, alongside stars such as Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, and Anthony Hopkins, has stirred debate even before its scheduled release in March.
Reports from initial screenings have claimed that Christian viewers "questioned the film's adherence to the Bible story and reacted negatively to the intensity and darkness of the lead character."
Paramount Vice Chair Rob Moore, who is a "devout Christian," believes, however, "that the vast majority of the Christian community will embrace [Noah]."
"[The movie contains the] key themes of the Noah story in Genesis – of faith and hope and God's promise to mankind," Moore said.
Moore said the biblical account offers few details about who Noah was and admitted that the movie "has a lot more creativity to it" compared to the "Son of God" film, which will be released in theaters Feb. 28. " … 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," said Moore, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
"From a storytelling perspective, the main points are that Noah is a man of faith who is picked by God, told to build an ark, builds the ark and survives."