Box Office: 'Noah' Opens on Par With 'Gravity' in Mexico

The biblical epic is debuting in Mexico and South Korea a week ahead of its North American launch on March 28.

Darren Aronofsky's Noah opened across Mexico on Friday, grossing a promising $1.4 million from 635 locations. That's on par with Gravity and 50 percent ahead of James Bond pic Skyfall.

The event film, inspired by the story of Noah's Ark and starring Russell Crowe, is opening in Mexico and South Korea a week ahead of its debut in North America and an additional 20 international markets .

From Paramount and New Regency, Noah is also doing strong business in South Korea, where it earned another $1.4 million on Friday for a two-day cume of $2.6 million, likewise on par with last year's Gravity.

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The turnout in South Korea and Mexico -- a haven for tentpoles -- bodes well for the big-budget film, which hopes to play both as a mainstream event movie and as an offering for faith-based audiences (South Korea has a large Christian population, while Mexico is predominately Catholic).

The biblical epic has received a great deal of attention because of Aronofsky's unique take on the well-known religious story, including portraying Noah as a man concerned with environmental issues as he prepares his ark for the flood.

Working with church leaders, Paramount altered its marketing campaign in recent days to say that Aronofsky's movie is inspired by the story of Noah's Ark, versus being a literal adaptation.

And last week, Crowe, Aronofsky, producer Scott Franklin and Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore -- who were in Rome for a screening of the film -- briefly met with Pope Francis when attending the weekly papal general audience in St. Peter's Square.

The film has been banned in several Middle Eastern countries for contradicting Islamic law by portraying a prophet. Earlier in March, censorship boards in Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates informed Paramount they will not allow the release of the film. Similar rulings are expected in Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait, according to Paramount insiders.

Noah also stars Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly, Douglas Booth, Logan Lerman and Ray Winstone.