Censors have denied the release of Darren Aronofsky’s biblical film Noah in Chinese theaters due in part to its religious theme, insiders told The Hollywood Reporter.
“This was for religious reasons, though it seems the whole issue was quite complicated,” the source told The Hollywood Reporter.
The movie was due to screen mid-May and was being imported on a flat-fee basis, which means that it did not come under the quota of 34 overseas movies allowed into China on a revenue-share basis.
However, even flat-fee movies have to get censorship approval and this was not to be. Religion is a sensitive issue in defiantly secular China, and the biblical tale was always going to be closely scrutinized. A number of Muslim countries such as Indonesia have already banned the movie.
The bar on the film’s release may have been done partially for commercial reasons. The Hollywood films The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier both recently made strong openings in China’s box offices and more blockbusters, including Godzilla and the latest Transformers installation, are slated for release on the mainland in the coming weeks.
Paramount and New Regency’s Noah, starring Russell Crowe, has already raked in over 300 million USD at the worldwide box office, making it the director’s highest-grossing film to date.