Moviegoers were not afraid to hop on Noah's ark this weekend -- and share their opinions after the credits rolled.
Director Darren Aronofsky's "Noah" met studio expectations, generating an estimated $44 million in the U.S. and Canada through Sunday, according to Paramount Pictures, which released the film. Though moviegoers gave "Noah" an average grade of C, according to polling firm CinemaScore, the audience in one packed AMC theater in Santa Monica gave the film a standing ovation at the end.
"At first I thought maybe we walked into the wrong movie -- it was a little cheesy of a start," said Astacia Christenson, 36. "But it worked out because you got into the characters, there was some good acting and the story picked up and got more interesting. The movie saved itself."
Shawn Nier went to see "Noah" with his wife and three sons, ages 3, 6 and 17.
"I loved it," Nier said. "It was a big, epic movie. I don't usually like Russell Crowe but he was actually great.… He really got into his character."
Added Nier's oldest son, Miguel: "I like how they presented the theme of whether humanity is worth saving."
And what about 6-year-old Maddox? He said the "giant rock monsters" were his favorite.
But not everyone enjoyed Aronofsky's creative twists.
"I did think there were a few weird moments, like the rock creatures," said Christenson's daughter, Khaida Gordon, 17, of Benton, Ore. "They were interesting and a little strange. I'm still trying to figure out if it was a good addition or not."
Some audience members couldn't contain their laughter at certain points in the film, particularly when Crowe gave the camera or a costar dramatic looks.
"I think the conflict at the end of the movie became so great that it overwhelmed the story," said moviegoer Pat Ramsey. "I think it's distracting for such a well-known, powerful story to take it to another dimension."
Paramount said it's pleased with the film's performance so far.
"It was a fantastic result," said Megan Colligan, Paramount's president of domestic marketing and distribution. "I think the movie really surprises people and connects people and makes them want to talk about it."
Colligan said "Noah" brought in a diverse crowd: a 50-50 split of male and female audience members, "a little bit older crowd, which we expected," she said. Turnout was strong among Christians, Latinos and and African Americans and one other key contingent, Colligan added. "There are lots of Aronofsky fans in major cities."