Noah is expected to sweep away the opposition at the US box office this weekend, with analysts predicting the biblical epic will take $41m in its opening days.
The controversial film, directed by Darren Aronofsky, has already made $22m overseas, having opened in Australia, Korea, Mexico and Russia. In the US, it opens in 3,500 theatres, and is expected to knock the dystopian young adult thriller Divergent off the top spot.
Phil Contrino, an analyst with Boxoffice.com, said social media buzz – often an indicator of a film’s opening performance – was good. “It’s adding likes on Facebook at a good pace, with over 600,000 so far, which is good for a non-franchise movie,” he said. He said the ratio of positive to negative messages on Twitter was seven to one, another good indicator for the film.
Noah, starring Russell Crowe at its titular protagonist, has been heavily marketed to religious groups by its producers at Paramount. While some groups like the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference have endorsed the movie, others have been less than impressed.
“Having now seen Noah, we are disappointed to report that the film misses the boat,” Faith Driven Consumer founder Chris Stone said in an issued statement.
In an open letter to Hollywood, the group said it remained “profoundly invested in advocating for entertainment choices that appeal to Faith Driven Consumers, and are eagerly anticipating numerous Bible-themed offerings this year”.
Noah arrives in a year studded with religious movies. It follows Son of God, released by 20th Century Fox, which took $25.6m in its opening weekend. In December Fox will release Exodus, a 3D epic based on the story of Moses, from director Ridley Scott and starring Christian Bale.
Contrino said Hollywood was now making the biggest number of religious films since US cinema's Golden Age produced big-budget movies like The Greatest Story Ever Told and The Ten Commandments.
"If Noah is successful and Exodus, I think, will be even bigger, then this will not be the end," he said, adding that if the films prove a hit, then the Bible could succeed Marvel as Hollywood's favourite new source material.
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