The director of the upcoming Bible epic "Noah" shot down rumors that the movie had caused a hullabaloo for himself and Paramount Pictures.
"There isn't really a controversy," Darren Aronofsky told Variety on Thursday, at "Foundations of the Deep: Noah and the Flood," an art exhibition with work inspired by the story.
The director of "Black Swan" and "The Wrestler" added that he made the film for both "believers and non-believers" and was especially interested in challenging any preconceptions that the latter group might have about attending a religious film.
"I'm more concerned about getting non-believers into the theater or people who are less religious. A lot of people are thinking, 'Oh. I don't want to go see a Bible movie, but we completely shook up all expectations and people will see that as soon as they sit down and watch the movie. That is kind of what this art show is all about," he said.
Aronofsky dismissed concerns that had circulated among Evangelicals that the film had departed from the Genesis account and arguments that he exploited the story for his benefit, the majority of whom had not seen the film.
"The controversy is all about the unknown and about the fear of people trying to exploit a Bible story," said Aronofsky. "It will all disappear as soon as people start seeing the film."
Barbara Nicolosi Harrington, director of Azusa Pacific University's Story Institute, who has not seen the final cut of the movie, told The Christian Post earlier this month that she "[blamed] the writer-director Aronofsky for using the Bible as fodder for his personal crusades of over-population and environmentalism," and said that "Paramount takes liberties with 'Noah' that they would never take with 'Harry Potter.'"
According to a Faith Driven Consumers released last month, 98 percent of survey of 5,000 Americans who had read The Hollywood Reporter February story on "Noah" but had not screened the movie, said they 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."
The study was criticized by Paramount as "misleading."
Last week, the studio added a disclaimer to the film informing viewers that the film's plot-line had remained faithful to the "essence, values, and integrity" of the story of Noah, but that filmmakers had been given "artistic license."
"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.
Aronofsky also added that he was inspired by a 1997 blockbuster film when he proposed his idea to Paramount.
"I said, it's at least the second most famous boat if not the most famous boat after the Titanic," he laughed. "That was my pitch."
"Noah," which stars Russell Crowe as the title character, Jennifer Connelly as his wife Naameh, and Emma Watson as his daughter-in-law Ila, will open in theaters on March 28.