“Noah,” Darren Aronofsky‘s controversial adaptation of the Old Testament story of the great flood, debuted to a respectable $1.6 million in Thursday evening screenings, proving that buzz, whatever its flavor, can pay off at the box office.
The Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises release screened on roughly 3000 locations, with the studio comparing its initial domestic results to “Gravity’s” $1.4 million late night debut. That 3D space adventurer went on to rack up $55.8 million in its opening weekend, a figure “Noah” will struggle to match.
Filmed for a cost of $125 million, the epic is expected to rack up $35 million stateside and will likely knock off last weekend’s number one film, “Divergent,” to grab the top spot. The film will expand to approximately 3,500 locations this weekend, including more than 350 IMAX screens.
The biblical tale has been dogged by reports of conflicts between the visionary director and the studio and fears by some sectors of the faith-based community that Aronofsky’s vision may stray too far from Genesis. To allay those concerns, Paramount inserted a statement at the beginning of the film emphasizing that the production is a dramatic interpretation, not a literal retelling of the Bible story.
Overseas, the film has earned $22 million in its first week of release in Korea and Mexico. It added roughly $3.5 million to its tally from Australia and Russia on Thursday.
Russell Crowe, Jennifer Lawrence and Anthony Hopkins star in the film which has received strong notices from critics and is expected to draw older moviegoers. It currently enjoys a 78 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Noah” will face competition for the faith-based dollar from “God’s Not Dead,” a low-budget indie that stunned Hollywood with its $9 million debut last weekend. The religious drama will expand from less than 800 theaters to more than 1,160 locations for its second week.