Darren Aronofksy's biblical epic Noah will miss out on a release in China, the world's second-largest film market, after local censors dismissed it on religious grounds, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Noah has been a huge hit in the US, despite controversy over its unorthodox depiction of the antediluvian patriarch. It has so far taken $332m (£197m) worldwide – an impressive return for what was considered a high-risk $125m project, and one that provides a shot in the arm for Paramount Pictures.
China only allows 34 foreign movies to be shown in cinemas each year, on a profit-share basis. Noah would have been paid for via a flat fee, allowing it to sidestep the quota.The film still had to pass censors in the fiercely secular nation, however. As a source told The Hollywood Reporter: "This was for religious reasons, though it seems the whole issue was quite complicated."
Noah, which stars Russell Crowe as the ark-builder, with Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson and Ray Winstone in supporting roles, has now upset Christians, Muslims and secularists. The film was banned in Malaysia last month, after censors deemed it to be in violation of Islamic law, as well as in Indonesia, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates due to concerns over its depiction of a prophet.
US fundamentalist Christian groups were reportedly dismayed at Aronofsky's decision to produce a loose adaptation of the Bible story rather than a literal retelling, and Paramount issued a statement in February, making it clear that the movie was not intended as a direct translation.
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