Ghost in the Shell didn’t really have a ghost of a chance.
The Scarlett Johansson vehicle bombed at the box office over the weekend, debuting to $19 million and a distant third place. Considering all the publicity Paramount pumped into the live-action adaptation of the cult classic Japanese manga, something was clearly lost in translation.
According to a post-mortem in The Hollywood Reporter, it was several somethings. Chief among them was the “white-washing” controversy over the casting of a Caucasian actress in a role meant to be Asian in the original source material. From the moment Johansson’s casting was announced in 2014, the film became a symbol of the lack of diversity in the film industry for detractors on social media.
It didn’t help that most North Americans were unfamiliar with the source material, the manga series by Masamune Shirow. And it’s also questionable if the star power of Johansson is enough to carry an action movie on its own, without a recognizable pre-sold title attached. In other words, would fans really pay $15 a ticket just because she’s in a film? (Then again, A-listers Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt didn’t do all that much better with Passengers.)
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