Darren Aronofsky
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'I'm more concerned about getting non-believers into the theater,' the filmmaker says at exhibit

“There isn’t really a controversy,” “Noah” director Darren Aronofsky said just seven days after Paramount Pictures decided to add a disclaimer to moviegoers that the film is not exactly the same story portrayed in the Bible.

In February, Variety ran a story stating that the film may face some rough seas with religious audiences, according to a survey conducted by Raleigh, N.C.-based organization Faith Driven Consumers. Paramount criticized the story as “misleading.”

“The controversy is all about the unknown and about the fear of people trying to exploit a Bible story,” Aronofsky said Thursday at a Gotham art exhibit promoting the film’s March 28 release. “It will all disappear as soon as people start seeing the film.”

Titled “Fountains of the Deep: Visions of Noah and the Flood,” the West Broadway exhibit curated by Aronofsky featured the interpretations of the biblical story of Noah’s Ark by 50 contemporary artists and comic book legends.

“When I was in post-production (on “Noah”) and staring at my editor’s back for hours upon hours, I started daydreaming about approaching other artists to see what they would come up when thinking of the original story of Noah in the book of Genesis,” Aronofsky explained. “So I approached them and said, ‘don’t think about the movie. Don’t go on the Internet. Don’t look at stolen paparazzi shots of Russell (Crowe). Just go back to the original text and paint or create what you see and this exhibit is the result.”

Paintings and photographs of naked men and women as well as animals flying through Manhattan skyline were among the featured artworks.

“The film was made for believers and non-believers,” the helmer explained before guests arrived. “I’m more concerned about getting non-believers into the theater or people who are less religious. A lot of people are thinking, ‘Oh. I don’t want to go see a Bible movie,’ but we completely shook up all expectations and people will see that as soon as they sit down and watch the movie. That is kind of what this art show is all about.”

As for signing on to do a movie without final cut approval again?

“I come from a place where I have very limited resources and I keep making what I have better and better and better,” he said. “I think Paramount was about just trying everything that was possible. I’m very meticulous in my planning stage so I felt that it wasn’t going to fit together in different ways. The puzzle didn’t work that way, but you do learn things from the process (of not having final cut). It’s just a little bit painful. I’d rather just keep working on something and polishing it more and more.”

Studio re-cuts followed by test screenings of the $125 million pic made the 45-year-old director reflect on his next professional step.

“I love big movies and small movies and television,” he said. “I love storytelling, but I’m not going to make another (nine-figure budget film) tomorrow. I need a break.”

In terms of persuading Paramount to give an auteur all that money to make a film based on a story from the Bible, Aronofsky said it was a boat, not Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” which took in over $611 million at the box office that convinced the studio to back the film.

“I said, it’s at least the second most famous boat if not the most famous boat after the Titanic,” helmer laughed. “That was my pitch.”

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