Entertainment Movies Russell Crowe’s ‘Noah’ denied release in China
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Russell Crowe’s ‘Noah’ denied release in China

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

Paramount Pictures tried to secure a release slot for the vast Chinese mainland market by stressing its “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, told AFP simply that the film “will not release in China”, declining any further comment.

The film, which swept 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 due in Chinese cinemas on June 13. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 took $US10 million ($A10.82 million) in its first day in theatres over the weekend, while Captain America: The Winter Soldier has made more than $US115 million in China.

It has grossed $US99 million in six weeks since its release in the US, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations. It has made another $US233 million overseas, the LA Times reported.

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