The "least biblical film about Noah ever made" faces a deluge of criticism from religious groups
Noah, the $150m blockbuster starring Russell Crowe described by its director as the "least biblical biblical film ever made", is having to navigate choppy waters as religious groups raise opposition to the adaptation while some countries have already banned it.
The epic retelling of the biblical flood story was a gruelling shoot, with filming having to be postponed when the set was threatened by Hurricane Sandy. Director Darren Aronofsky also had to battle with studio heads over the final cut.
Now it faces further issues as Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have banned the film with Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait expected to follow suit. The Muslim countries are furious over the movie's portrayal of a prophet, saying it "contradicts the teachings of Islam".
The Egyptian Sunni Muslim institute Al-Azhar said it would antagonise the "feelings of the faithful".
While studio Paramount Pictures might have hoped for support from Christians in America ahead of the film's release, it appears to have been mistaken. Religious conservative groups criticised the portrayal for not following the Bible story closely enough, with some complaining that the character of Noah was "too dark" after seeing early screenings.
The complaints prompted the studio to put a disclaimer on its marketing materials saying the film was "inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic licence has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is the cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide".
Aronofsky, whose films include Black Swan and The Wrestler, has wanted to make the film for 15 years.
The film co-stars Jennifer Connelly and some British talent, including Sir Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone and Emma Watson.
It opens in New Zealand on March 27.