Can Darren Aronofsky Get Secular And Christian Audiences Together At The Movies?

Scott Meslow, Campus Progress intern and ace recapper at The Atlantic ponders Darren Aranofsky’s planned Noah’s Ark movie:

Today’s Christian moviegoers have a pretty meager selection of direct-to-DVD films; there’s not much range between the awful Left Behind series and the kid-friendly VeggieTales. When the occasional Christian-themed movie actually makes it into theaters (like 2008’s gloriously corny Fireproof), it tends to be consumed almost exclusively by a Christian audience.

Major studios are still sometimes willing to release movies with Christian themes — as long as those themes are diluted or buried. The first three novels of C.S. Lewis’ allegorical The Chronicles of Narnia have been adapted, but the emphasis has always been on the Lord of the Rings-style action, not the earnest Christian moralizing. To Hollywood, the Christian audience is essentially a niche audience, and the films that appeal to Christian audiences are too narrow and toothless to appeal to anyone else.

Noah’s Ark, I think, does have more crossover potential than some biblical stories, as both a story of faith in the face of objection and mockery, and as a kick-ass environmental disaster flick. In fact, it’s such a reasonable idea that it was done in 2007, when Steve Carrell played a congressman who rode an ark all the way from his district to the steps of the Capitol to lobby for better dam design and general kindness. The movie made $173 million, $100 million of it in the States, which is fine, but only good for 28th place on the year’s box office. Not that I see Aronofsky making a cheerful family picture, but in case he was planning on it, he’ll have to find a fresh interpretation.

And therein lies the challenge, right? If he goes for an argument that says obedience to God requires a commitment to conservation, he might bring in environmentalists, but lose some of the religious viewers. If it’s a dark movie about religious persecution and resistance to belief, it might not have have a ton of crossover appeal. If it’s a movie about a man and his architectural vision, maybe he’ll pull in Christian Objectivists? Knowing Aronofsky, he’ll pull off something fascinating, but this is a tricky balance to try to achieve.