hAfter coming off a year in which its World War Z was touted to be about the worst movie ever until it turned out to be a worthy edge-of-the-seat summer hit, Paramount Pictures isn’t sitting by while the tide rises on bad buzz involving Noah, its biblical epic that Darren Aronofsky directed with Russell Crowe starring. Our sister publication Variety bannered a story titled “Survey: Faith-Driven Consumers Dissatisfied With ‘Noah,’ Hollywood Religious Pics”, which cited a general poll by something called Faith Driven Consumer. While a movie like Noah will need a faith-based crowd in order to be a hit, this story sits on a slippery slope in that no one surveyed has seen the movie, and while the story says 98% of those surveyed were not “satisfied” with Hollywood’s take on religious stories, it doesn’t appear they were even asked specifically about Noah. I’ve heard the rumors that Noah was a tough shoot, and I have no idea whether it is any good or not. About all we know is that co-financier New Regency staked Aronofsky to a long-term deal after the movie wrapped, and that Aronofsky turned down a lot of big jobs after Black Swan specifically because this movie was burning in him. Why a flimsy survey was used as a club to wallop Noah probably comes down to a desire to stir up traffic (which it certainly did). From here, it looks like Paramount has a right to gripe. Here is Paramount’s highly unusual rebuttal to the Variety story:

HOLLYWOOD, CA (February 18, 2014) – Paramount Pictures, distributor of Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming feature film “NOAH”, strongly disputes the inaccurate media story from Variety, who reported on a religious survey from the Faith Driven Consumer.

The question posed asked respondents if they were “satisfied with a biblically themed movie — designed to appeal to you — which replaces the Bible’s core message with one created by Hollywood.”

The survey question that had the 98% response rate did not contain any reference to the film “NOAH,” despite the fact that the Variety reporting implied that it did, and research from industry leading firms about the upcoming epic paints a very different picture.

Nielsen’s National Research Group (NRG), the industry’s decades long standard for measuring pre-release tracking of feature films (and other entertainment offerings), is tracking “NOAH” and has gauged, with still six-weeks to go before the film’s release and from self-defined “very religious” moviegoers, that 83% of those aware of “NOAH” in the pre-release tracking have expressed interest in seeing film.

Others in the Christian research field, includingthe Barna Group, the 30-year-old research and resource company widely considered to be a leading research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture, have had a similar response to NRG in their own pre-release research done of behalf of “NOAH,” including the fact that 86% of Christian respondents who are aware of the film, said they would recommend “NOAH” to their friends.

Additionally, Barna Group’s President David Kinnaman, noted “On our survey conducted over February 13th through February 15th, we found the majority of Pastors would recommend that people see the film Noah.”

“NOAH,” from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises, stars Academy Award®-winner Russell Crowe in the title role in the film inspired by the epic story of courage, sacrifice and hope. Directed by visionary filmmaker Darren Aronofsky. Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Anthony Hopkins and Logan Lerman also star. The film was written by Darren Aronofsky & Ari Handel and produced by Scott Franklin, Darren Aronofsky, Mary Parent and Arnon Milchan.