Paramount on Tuesday issued a press release criticizing Variety's story about the survey as misleading. The studio asserted that the survey did not cite "Noah" specifically in asking respondents: "Are you satisfied with a biblically themed movie - designed to appeal to you - which replaces the Bible's core message with one created by Hollywood?"
the Web page of the Faith Driven Consumer site where the survey was conducted was headlined "Survey: 'Noah' Movie Controversy" (see image below). It also featured a picture from "Noah" and a brief article about what it called "the controversy swirling around the blockbuster movie 'Noah.' " The information was derived from press reports about focus group reaction to a cut of the movie. According to the survey, 98% percent of respondents said they would not be satisfied with such a movie.
The article quoted from a recent story in The Hollywood Reporter stating that the movie has been criticized by some for depicting the title character as a "crazy, irrational, religious nutâ¦fixated on modern-day problems like overpopulation and environmental degradation."
The article ends by asking readers to respond to the survey question and "tell Hollywood executives what you think about this movie."
Faith Driven Consumer founder Chris Stone confirms that the survey was entirely focused on "Noah."
"That's ridiculous...and absolutely incorrect," Stone said in an interview about Paramount's claim that Variety's report was inaccurate. "The whole thing's about 'Noah.'
Stone, 50, who owns an advertising agency in Raleigh, has cast himself as an advocate for the faith community and describes his org as a "movement" to connecting consumers with brands that share their world view. He calls himself "a follower of Christ" whose motivation is to use his skills as an ad maven to further the mission of Faith Driven Consumer.
Stone has shown a knack for getting media attention during the past few months as he has ramped up the org's activity. His advertising company, the Stone Agency, primarily does work in the secular arena for such clients as regional banks, insurance companies and automotive-related companies.
Faith Driven Consumer is a separate entity from Stone Agency, though some of the Stone Agency staffers also do work for Faith Driven Consumer. Stone says to date he has self-funded the activity of Faith Driven Consumer.
In December, Stone was one of the loudest voices pressuring A+E Networks to reverse its decision to suspend Phil Robertson from "Duck Dynasty" after the patriarch made disparaging comments about gays and African-Americans in a GQ magazine profile.
Stone, in an interview with Variety conducted Tuesday morning before Paramount issued its press release, made it clear that his org has its eye on Hollywood this year as the major studios prepare to release a number of Bible-based feature films. Biblical material is also hot in TV these days thanks to the success of History's "The Bible" miniseries last March.
Stone has proven that he he can generate headlines. During the "Duck Dynasty" flap, Faith Driven Consumer circulated the IStandWithPhil.com petition that gathered more than 250,000 signatures in a matter of days -- and became a visual symbol of how outraged many of the show's core viewers were at A+E's decision to suspend Robertson from the program. Stone was scheduled to meet today with executives from A+E Network in Gotham, a long-planned face-to-face session following the "Duck Dynasty" flap.
But beyond generating online petitions and polls, what exactly is Faith Driven Consumer?
"Faith Driven Consumer is a mechanism to build a bridge between American brands and the faith-driven consumer community upon which commerce and engagement can occur," Stone says.
He indicates that there may be opportunities for some kind of consulting work with Hollywood down the road, but to date he says he has never pitched any film or TV companies on his services.
Stone claims to have "hundreds of thousands" of supporters associated with Faith Driven Consumer, mostly gathered through online sources; the Faith Driven Consumer Facebook page had more than 68,400 "likes" as of Wednesday afternoon.