Pop Culture

Russell Crowe's 'Noah' banned in some Arab countries

The Biblical-based feature movie "Noah" doesn't open until the end of March, but the film is already awash in controversy. 

The movie, which tells the story of the apocalyptic flood, has been banned in Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, Reuters reported, because it "contradicts the teachings of Islam," a Paramount Pictures representative said. Meanwhile, in Egypt a Sunni Muslim organization has issued a fatwa over the film, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Despite the fatwa, however, Egyptian law says no religious institution can censor a film from theaters, The Los Angeles Times added. Noah's story is part of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, with an entire chapter of the Koran devoted to the epic tale.

The film's website now features a disclaimer indicating that "artistic license has been taken" with the story and notes that "the Biblical story of Noah can be found in the Book of Genesis."

"The studio is doing this because they're walking a very fine line here," The Hollywood Reporter's Matthew Belloni told NBC's Janet Shamlian. "They want this movie to be a wide, mainstream hit that will appeal to global audiences regardless of faith, but they want to do that while at the same time not alienating people who see the Noah story as gospel."

With stars such as Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins and a budget estimated to be more than $120 million, there's a lot invested in the success of the film. 

But in the U.S., "there's such a hunger for faith-based movies right now," noted TODAY's Al Roker Thursday.

"The film was made for believers and non-believers," director Darren Aronofsky told Variety. "I'm more concerned about getting non-believers into the theater or people who are less religious."

"Noah" opens on March 28.