Paramount Pictures is denying a report that Pope Francis canceled a planned meet-and-greet with actor Russell Crowe -- a get-together that was reportedly aimed at garnering perceived support from the pontiff for "Noah," a feature film that has spawned a fair bit of theological controversy.
According to Variety, a meeting between the pope, Russell Crowe, who plays Noah, director Darren Aronofsky and Paramount's vice-chairman Rob Moore, was initially scheduled for Wednesday morning in St. Peter's Square.
A source told the outlet that the Vatican canceled the meeting, though, over "concerns word would leak, causing a spectacle as Crowe and Aronofsky landed in Rome."
Pope Francis greets couples gathered in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014. Pope Francis met a group of engaged couples on Valentine's Day. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Aronofsky reportedly told Variety last week that a meeting with the pope had been proposed, but it would not unfold if any reporters covered or tweeted about it beforehand.
Paramount, though, is denying that a meeting was officially scheduled, saying that the studio reached out to the Vatican to propose a meet-and-greet, but that it was never set in stone.
"A meeting was never scheduled," a spokesman for the company said, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
With Crowe and the "Noah" team in Italy for Tuesday's premiere, proposing a meeting made strategic sense.
Paramount said that the Vatican responded to the inquiry for a get-together in St. Peter's Square by saying it was best not to proceed, as Crowe's appearance in the public venue could create disruptions, the Hollywood Reporter added.
The actor has repeatedly reached out to Pope Francis on Twitter of late, telling the pontiff that "Noah" will "fascinate" him and offering to personally bring the movie to the Vatican for a screening.
It's no secret that "Noah" has caused a great deal of theological controversy. To temper debate over the film's presentation of extra-Biblical themes, Paramount recently added an “explanatory message” to marketing materials letting prospective viewers know that “artistic license has been taken.”
Christians have had mixed reactions about the film, with some evangelicals saying that believers should embrace it and others claiming that the film doesn't represent the biblical story adequately.
Here's the trailer for the film:
Media producer and consultant Phil Cooke, a Christian who works in Hollywood and who supports the "Noah" film, took aim recently at those who are critiquing the movie before actually seeing it.
"I have no quarrel with anyone who is concerned about what I would call extra-biblical, or doctrinal issues in the movie," Cooke told TheBlaze. "I have a Ph.D. in theology, so I get that completely. My biggest problem is the number of people who have negatively reviewed this and other films on blogs and other platforms without ever seeing it."
Read more about the ongoing debate here.
(H/T: Deseret News)
Featured image via Paramount Pictures/YouTube