Entertainment & Arts

Noah director Aronofsky in row over final cut of epic

Darren Aronofsky
Image caption Aronofsky first came to public attention with the 1998 sci-fi thriller Pi

Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky is at loggerheads with Paramount over the final cut of his biblical epic Noah.

The film, which is reported to have surpassed its $125m (£78m) budget, has received negative reactions following test screenings across the US.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, screenings have taken place in New York, Arizona and Orange County to allow for religious diversity.

Christian and Jewish audience reactions were said to have been "worrisome".

The film is based on the story of Noah, who in the Bible was warned of an impending flood and built an ark to carry two of each species of animal to safety.

The film, which is set for release next March, stars Russell Crowe as Noah, alongside Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson and Ray Winstone.

It also involves extensive CGI, including all the featured animals.

"We had to create an entire animal kingdom," Aronofsky told the Director's Guild of America's Quarterly magazine earlier this month

"We chose the species and they were brought to life with different furs and colours. We didn't want anything fully recognisable but not completely absurd either," explained the New York-based filmmaker.

'Wacko'

Aronofsky, whose Oscar-winning movies have included Black Swan and The Wrestler, is well known for his left-field work with a body of films that includes Requiem for a Dream, Pi and The Fountain.

Last year, screenwriter Brian Godawa obtained a version of the Noah script and posted his summary online, deeming the film "Environmentalist Wacko".

He concluded that the film was "an uninteresting and unbiblical waste of a hundred and fifty million dollars that will ruin for decades the possibility of making a really great and entertaining movie of this Bible hero."

In July, Aronofsky screened footage for the church-based Echo conference in Texas and subsequent tweets from audience members suggested the preview was well received.

Paramount, which is sharing the cost of the film with New Regency, is reportedly eager not to alienate the Christian audience but it currently remains unclear as to whether the studios or director have rights over the final cut.

Rob Moore, vice-chairman of Paramount, told the Hollywood Reporter the film was undergoing a "normal preview process" and the result will be "one version of the movie that Darren is overseeing".

He said the studio had "a very long post-production period, which allowed for a lot of test screenings."

While Aronofsky "definitely wants some level of independence," he added, "he also wants a hit movie."

"We're getting to a very good place, and we're getting there with Darren," he added.

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