Box Office Outlook: Noah
Noah poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published March 27, 2014
I expect Noah to debut with about half of The Passion and more than double the take of Apocalypto.
Darren Aronofsky was able to get his hands on Noah because Black Swan was a big hit and he should enjoy a very strong debut with this film even though it sounds like word of mouth might be shaky. Reviews are decent but apparently early test screening audiences months in advance were laughing at the movie rather than going along the experience. Test screenings arenít always the best indicator but they can be reliable on certain levels and especially for someone like Aronofsky, his films arenít designed to please the casual moviegoing public. Apparently after the film was tested in advance, the exit polls were not good and Aronofsky just shrugged his shoulders and moved on with his vision in post-production, even with Paramount pleading him to re-edit the film more cohesively. Iím guessing that Aronofsky had final-cut as he probably did with most of his previous pictures, which means the studio just has to step back and hope the finished product will be worthy of releasing.

The only two films that I can think to compare to are The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto, and I expect Noah to debut with about half of The Passion and more than double the take of Apocalypto. I have nothing to back this up with but I am seeing an opening day gross of around $14 million with a per-screen average of roughly $4,000, with help from solid star-power and those familiar with its story. I havenít seen the film and may not actually go in theaters because I already have no emotional involvement in the subject matter and donít really care to pay for a 2-hour-plus religious experience. Even if the film isnít all that bad I may be missing out on it until it hits the shelves so I donít have to watch it all. But I know there will be quite a few people who will be on opposite sides of the tracks as me and will be very interested based on the trailer and especially based on the several name-actors who signed on. Russell Crowe has a share of bad movies to his name but is still highly respected and is heavily selective in what he commits to, which will persuade intellectual thinking-crowds into paying for this experience. Youíve got two award winners Ė him and respected Jennifer Connelly, reenacting an epic history lesson. Youíve also got award winner Anthony Hopkins which really impresses thinkers of all ages, as well as Emma Watson, who will provide appeal for younger viewers and potentially broaden the age brackets a little.

One of the things that should keep this from exploding at the box office on the level of The Passion is that it doesnít look like an entertaining film and it looks like you have to be invested in the subject already to admire the picture, which is going to keep back a lot of moviegoers from trying it out. Most moviegoers want to be entertained by something a movie provides and this looks very, very serious. Intellectuals with deep knowledge of history and religion arenít going to mind but those who arenít very religious or even at all are going to back up from the theater and see if thereís anything else playing. The Passion of the Christ was not an entertaining film either but cinematically it required a movie theater. Even if you didnít like what the film presented in story, it was executed monstrously in its presentation.

Plenty of people were taking a chance with it because it looked epic in its cinematography and tones from the advertising, and it wasnít just playing to religious fanatics who had something to say on its matter. The title The Passion also said much more about its subject than Noah does, because everybody knows about Jesus, but with Noah, if you arenít familiar with religion, youíll ask what the title even refers to. If you havenít seen the trailer or the poster for the film, the title of it could mean any number of things. Today, a filmís title is a good chunk of the business and The Passion of the Christ nailed the title test. Even if people hadnít seen the trailer or poster for The Passion, the title alone could spark interest. Whereas people who are just casually walking by a theater playing Noah might not know what it is.

Various people at theaters decide to see a film on a whim just scanning the marquee looking at titles while theyíre in the area and Noah isnít likely going to be a huge draw amongst these types of people. It should debut strongly especially for a religious film but playing epically doesnít look to be in the cards. The Passion of the Christ debuted to $84.1 million in 3,043 theaters and that was without its five-day take of $125.2 million; whereas Apocalypto debuted to $15.0 million in 2,465 theaters. My guess is that Noah lands a little under half of The Passion and finds itself grossing around $40 million in three days. If test screening reactions were accurate and the film has poor word of mouth, it will finish a bit over $100. Thatís perfect success for most films but the production cost was $125 million and I donít really see it making back that price tag domestically. Without a doubt, overseas business is going to be huge, and international sales are going to save this picture and make it earn money in its worldwide total. In comparison, Black Swan grossed $107.0 million domestically, The Wrestler grossed $26.2 million, and The Fountain grossed $10.1 million. Aronofsky has gone a long distance since Pi ($3.2M) and Requiem for a Dream ($3.6M), but his specific tastes still keep him from reaching a huge audience across America.
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    March 28, 2014    Itís every bit as breathtaking and rewarding an experience as advertised. -- Craig Younkin