This week's The Hollywood Reporter shines a light on the murky world of the final cut with news that Darren Aronofsky's Noah has hit heavy seas at Paramount. The Russell Crowe-starring Biblical epic is deep into its lengthy post-production phase and the scuttlebutt is that early preview screenings have raised blood pressures on Melrose Avenue.
The film has been screened in New York, Arizona and Orange County, California, to take its temperature with specifically Jewish and Christian audiences as well as the public at large. Their feedback, reports THR, has raised concerns that Aronofsky's singular interpretation of the Flood and its aftermath will struggle to find an evangelical fanbase within any of those groups.
But Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore has been swift to reject suggestions that the studio is locked in a battle over final cut with its director, pointing out that a "normal preview process" will end with "one version of the movie that Darren is overseeing". The expectation was always for a length period in post, he points out, and it's fair to say that testing is pretty much de rigeur on a movie of this size and budget.
Paramount, which split the movie's $125 million budget with New Regency Pictures, has acknowledged Aronofsky's need for creative autonomy, so any arm-wrestling over the version of Noah that finally hits screens next year should be considered in that context. You don't hire the director of Black Swan to make The Greatest Story Ever Told.
Adds Moore: "We're getting to a very good place, and we're getting there with Darren."
Noah is out in the UK on March 28, 2014.