Black Swan helmer Darren Aronofsky is returning to the realm of visually-evocative mythicism that he (in part) explored in The Fountain, with another project that is originating as a graphic novel before it makes the transition to cinematic form: Noah, a retelling of the Noah's Ark story that the director promises will retain the adult subject matter and taboo details present in the original Biblical text (but which are left out in most re-tellings).
The Fountain was originally going to mark Aronofsky's first foray into big-budget filmmaking territory, but that preliminary version of the project collapsed. Noah, in its current form, is likewise being fashioned as a $130 million blockbuster on a par with your average Roland Emmerich apocalyptic flick (ex. 2012) - and, unless Paramount gets cold feet, that isn't going to change.
Oscar-nominated director of photography Matthew Libatique (Iron Man) has worked on every film directed by Aronofsky to date, save for The Wrestler. He spoke recently to Oscar Poker co-host Jeffrey Wells about Noah - including what the project's current production timeline is and how the film's central cast is shaping up.
According to Aronofsky's go-to cinematographer, shooting on Noah is now set to get underway (in New York and Iceland) by July 2012, with a planned theatrical release date in Fall 2013. Not-so-surprisingly, it sounds as though Paramount wants to position the world-ending drama - which is also being scripted by multiple Oscar-nominee John Logan (The Aviator, Hugo) - as a potential Academy Awards contender that year.
Wells is also reporting that the film will feature a more mature version of the titular character (or, rather, "a guy in his 40s") along with a semi-antagonist in the form of a figure who constantly doubts Noah's assertion that he is performing God's will by constructing a massive ark. Seeing how (almost) middle-aged actors like Christian Bale and Michael Fassbender have previously been linked to the lead role, that's not exactly a shock.
Since Noah is now slated to begin shooting this summer, rather than Spring 2012 (as was previously expected), Fassbender may be unofficially out of the running to headline the film. That's not only due to his hot-in-demand status right now, but also because Fassbender has already committed to reuniting with his Hunger and Shame director Steve McQueen on Twelve Years a Slave - which is also slated to start production by Summer 2012.
The combined might of Aronofsky's filmmaking technical prowess and Logan's excellent storytelling chops is reason enough to justify getting excited for Noah. Word that the film also promises to be a thematically-rich and loyal re-interpretation of the original Biblical tale, is just icing on the cake.
Noah should likewise feature a layered and challenging incarnation of the eponymous savior for humankind - a role which has already attracted the interests of some big-name talent. If Fassebender is still interested (and can manage to fit the film into his schedule) that'll be welcome news. Otherwise, expect a similarly respectable thespian to eventually be recruited for the title part.
We will continue to keep you updated on the status of Noah as more information is released.