Credit: Niko Tavernise

Noah, Darren Aronofsky’s big-budget biblical epic, doesn’t arrive in theaters until next March, but the Oscar-nominated director and Paramount reportedly are already feeling the winds of a brewing storm. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film has generated unfavorable reactions in early test screenings, and the studio is leaning on Aronofsky to make changes — changes that the Black Swan director apparently is resisting. “Darren is not made for studio films,” The Reporter quotes a talent rep close to the movie as saying. “He’s very dismissive. He doesn’t care about [Paramount’s] opinion.”

Russell Crowe stars as Noah, the righteous Old Testament hero who built a giant ark to protect his family and the Earth’s animals against an apocalyptic flood sent by God to destroy the wicked. The film also features Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, and Ray Winstone. With a budget of at least $115 million, it is by far Aronofsky’s biggest production, and though Black Swan was an enormous financial success, Noah represents the director’s first real attempt at a blockbuster (a longtime ambition demonstrated by his flirtations with directing Batman, Watchman, RoboCop, and, most recently, The Wolverine.)

Aronofsky introduced some footage to the largely Christian audience at a Texas convention in July, and while it was relatively well-received there, others worried that he was veering off track by making Noah “the first environmentalist.” When Brian Godawa, a Christian-minded screenwriter, got his hands on an early Noah script last year, he concluded it was “an uninteresting and unbiblical waste of $150 million that will ruin for decades the possibility of making a really great and entertaining movie … This movie will be rejected by millions of devoted Bible readers worldwide because once again it subverts their own sacred narrative with a political agenda of pagan Earth religion that is offensive to their faith.”

That could be the concern of Paramount, which is splitting the bill for Noah with New Regency, after the film was recently screened before Christian and Jewish audiences. But Paramount vice-chairman Rob Moore told the trade that the movie was simply going through the “normal preview process,” and that the studio “allowed for a very long post-production period, which allowed for a lot of test screenings.”

Aronosfsky’s spokesperson said, “This is a long and collaborative process, and Darren and the studio are working together to make the best version of his movie that they can. To comment on anonymous quotes only gives time and space to false rumors and gossip.”

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