China blocks Hollywood epic 'Noah' from cinema release

No reason given for denial of US box office smash hit, but religious and economic concerns have been suggested

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 May, 2014, 11:35am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 May, 2014, 12:37pm

Chinese authorities have refused to allow the release there of biblical epic Noah, starring Russell Crowe, which has already been banned in several Muslim countries, a source said.

Paramount Pictures tried to secure a release slot for the vast Chinese mainland market by stressing the film’s “environmental message” and special effects, the Los Angeles Times reported.

But getting the Bible-based story past China’s cinematic gatekeepers was difficult, given Beijing’s sensitivities on religious issues, it said.

A source familiar with the issue, who declined to be identified, said simply that the film “will not release in China,” declining any further comment.

The film, which shot to the top of North America’s box office when it was released in March, has been banned in Bahrain, Indonesia, Malaysia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, among other countries.

The newspaper cited one source who suggested Noah may have been refused a Chinese release for commercial reasons, because several other Hollywood blockbusters are due out there in the coming weeks.

Godzilla is set to hit Chinese cinemas on June 13. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 took 61.5 million yuan (HK$77.5 million) in its first day in theatres over the weekend, while Captain America: The Winter Soldier has made more than 707.3 million yuan in China.

Noah has grossed US$99 million in six weeks since its release in the United States, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations. It has made another US$233 million overseas, the LA Times reported.

The film also angered some Christian institutions in the United States over Crowe’s reportedly unconventional portrayal of Noah, who is regarded as an important figure in both Christianity and Islam.

Check out the trailer for Noah