The much-talked about, biblically questionable big-screen release “Noah” finished its debut weekend with a better than expected $44 million in box-office take. But when it comes to the movie’s long-term success, there are some dark clouds lurking on the horizon.
CinemaScore is a highly regarded market research firm that polls film audiences and rates their viewing experiences with letter grades. The firm reports its results and forecasts box-office receipts based on data collected.
CinemaScore’s representatives routinely survey opening-day audiences in 25 of the largest movie markets in North America to determine a grade ranging from A+ to F for the respective film. Most movies receive a minimum of “B+” as a CinemaScore grade, with anything less being cause for concern for the studio and filmmakers involved.
The controversial “Noah,” which was delivered to the screen by Paramount and director Darren Aronofsky, received a dismal CinemaScore of “C” from moviegoers.
Despite the buoyant box-office showing, the “C” CinemaScore rating seriously jeopardizes the movie’s chances in the all-important weeks to come.
Opening day audiences tend to display more enthusiasm about a movie than filmgoers typically do at other times. The CinemaScore “C” grade, as characterized by the Los Angeles Times, is “bad news, the equivalent of a failing grade.”
Paramount's president of domestic marketing and distribution, Megan Colligan, seemed to engage in some spin when asked about the low CinemaScore grade and its impact on week two.
“There’s two different kinds of C's where people are indifferent about the movie and then there is this type of C,” Colligan said.
The movie executive cited the polarizing nature of the film and characterized the CinemaScore rating as “a hair misleading in how the people are going to be talking about the movie and how it will play.” Nonetheless she was quick to add the following:
“So we feel really good about how it’s going to play.”
Despite Colligan’s confident statement, the word of mouth upon which big-budget films rely has been thrust into high gear, due to the use of social media both during and after the movie. Negative buzz can, of course, be toxic to a film as it relates to week two.
Additionally, “Noah” is going to have stiff competition in the weekend to come. The highly anticipated Marvel sequel, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” will debut on 3,900 screens and is experiencing very positive cyber buzz across the net.
If “Noah” should take a precipitous fall in the weeks to come, it may turn out to be an unprofitable venture for Paramount. According to the studio, the budget for the movie was $125 million, a relatively modest number for a current studio blockbuster.
However, several reports indicate that a significant additional sum was spent on marketing and distribution, so it remains to be seen whether the movie will be in the black months from now.
Paramount executives would no doubt be quite pleased if the movie's second week turned out to be similar to another film that was recently marketed to the Christian audience.
“God’s Not Dead,” which experienced only a slight decline of 1.5 percent in its second week, took in a better than expected 9 million, putting its cumulative gross at a very profitable $22 million. The independently produced low-budget film deals with a tug of war between a Christian college freshman and a dogmatic atheist professor (portrayed by Kevin Sorbo) over the existence of God.
According to its website, “God’s Not Dead” is expanding to 1,100 screens, is poised to soar over the Easter holidays, and doesn’t have to use a disclaimer to entice audiences.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.
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