There has been no shortage of controversy surrounding director Darren Aronofsky’s new film “Noah,” with some critics claiming that the movie might not stay true to the Biblical story. Expressing concern over the film’s contents, a Christian group has written an open letter to Hollywood addressing the debate and calling on Tinseltown to better court people of faith.
The letter, written by Chris Stone, founder of Faith Driven Consumer, a group that connects Christians with “faith-friendly” retailers, starts by noting that the core audience for “Noah” is embedded in the scores of Americans who are faith-driven in the decisions they make — an estimated 46 million American Christians who spend $1.75 trillion each year.
Stone wrote that his group’s information gathering and analysis of the news reports surrounding “Noah” has shown that faith-friendly audiences might not be too keen on the movie, specifically if it turns away from the Biblical narrative.
“Extensive and detailed reporting over six months, information provided to us by insiders in the film industry, and feedback from those who participated in test screenings of ‘Noah,’ informs us that the film, as currently configured, deviates from the core Biblical message and replaces it with a modernistic, revisionist one,” he wrote.
So, Faith Driven Consumer turned to the Internet to ask Christian consumers the following question: “As a Faith Driven Consumer, are you satisfied with a Biblically themed movie — designed to appeal to you — which replaces the Bible’s core message with one created by Hollywood?”
Stone told TheBlaze that of the more than 5,000 Christians who answered the online survey, 98 percent answered “no,” with many contacting Faith Driven Consumer to provide additional comments.
“They are not protesting, people are not crying foul, they are simply saying — if you make a movie for us, it needs to be consistent with Scripture in order to appeal to us,” Stone said. “It’s a simple consumer purchasing decision. If you want me to give you money, I want to receive value in return. A film that doesn’t meet this standard fails to resonate with me, plain and simple.”
Now, it’s important to note that the question doesn’t directly mention “Noah,” as it addresses the wider issue of Christian perception when it comes to Hollywood. That said, Stone noted that coverage of the movie has led to a “healthy skepticism.”
In his open letter (read it here), he openly asked the entertainment industry to listen, learn and engage with Christians, so that Hollywood and people of faith can create a mutually beneficial relationship.
“Our goal all along has been dialogue and engagement. We intended our survey and efforts as a constructive opportunity to provide feedback on ‘Noah’ in specific and Biblical films in general,” Stone said.
Debate surrounding the film is noting new. Numerous media reports have pointed to a rift between Aronofsky and Paramount over final cutting rights to the film and over whether the overarching plot would remain entirely based on the Bible.
Aronofsky recently told the Hollywood Reporter that the studio tested different versions of the film, but inevitably embraced his.
In a Feb. 18 press release, Paramount noted that Faith Driven Consumer’s survey question wasn’t a direct reference to “Noah,” but a more sweeping question about Bible-based films and dismissed attempts to directly link the results to the film.
The release also noted that, according to Nielsen’s National Research Group, 83 percent of self-defined “very religious” moviegoers who are aware of “Noah” want to see the film.
Additionally, Paramount cited a Barna Group study that found that 86 percent of Christians surveyed would recommend “Noah” to their friends. The majority of pastors in this same study would also recommend others see the film.
And it helps the case for “Noah” that Ted Baehr, founder of MovieGuide, an organization that reviews movies for Christians, has come out in media essentially defending the Biblical nature of the film. Baehr told Yahoo! Movies that “Noah” doesn’t stray from the Bible in significant ways.
“All of the hyper-environmentalism that’s being reported, it’s not in the final movie,” he said. “The environmental points are there, but they are dropped pretty quickly, and it’s more oriented toward salvation, and loving God, and being fruitful.”
In the end, it seems audiences will simply have to decide for themselves whether the film keeps with the Biblical narrative.
“Noah,” starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson and Anthony Hopkins, opens March 28.
Featured image via Paramount’s YouTube page