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Paramount executives hoped the Vatican would give 'Noah' a boost

Pope Francis has nixed a would-be meet and greet with the creative team behind “Noah,” including star Russell Crowe, director Darren Aronofsky and Paramount vice chair Rob Moore, which studio executives had been scrambling to schedule as a photo-op, Variety has learned.

The meeting was tentatively on the calendar for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in the VIP section so the pope could figuratively lend a blessing to the $125 million biblical epic. The reason the Vatican cancelled it, according to a source, is over concerns word would leak, causing a spectacle as Crowe and Aronofsky landed in Rome.

When reached by Variety last week, Aronofsky said the meeting had been proposed, but it wouldn’t happen if anybody reported or tweeted about it ahead of time.

“Noah,” scheduled for U.S. release on March 28, has been criticized by some religious groups for taking too many liberties with the story of Noah’s Ark.

Even though the pope doesn’t normally screen movies, he recently met with Philomena Lee, the subject of the Weinstein Co.’s “Philomena” at the height of Oscars season in February.

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