‘Ghost In The Shell’ Casting Controversy To Blame For Box Office Failure? | Film News
Not that The Boss Baby doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, but it completely obliterated Ghost In The Shell in the box office, doubling the latter movie’s disappointing $19 million (against a $110 million budget) debut weekend over the same three days.
And if the hit to the wallet isn’t enough, Ghost In The Shell also continues to receive poor ratings and reviews everywhere. Ouch!
Paramount executive, Kyle Davies, admitted that the poor critical and commercial reception was probably heavily influenced by the casting controversy that made headlines and fueled online discourse even months before the release of the movie.
“We had hopes for better results domestically. I think the conversation regarding casting impacted the reviews,” said the Davies.
“You’ve got a movie that is very important to the fanboys since it’s based on a Japanese anime movie. So you’re always trying to thread that needle between honouring the source material and making a movie for a mass audience. That’s challenging”.
Wanting a bankable, household name actress to help introduce another country’s popular culture into the American market is understandable and reasonable. But actresses like Zhang Ziyi, Fan Bingbing and Bae Doona have already successfully broken into the Hollywood industry. While they aren’t Japanese, it wasn’t like Paramount didn’t have a single Asian actress to play the role.
It should have come to no one’s surprise that casting a white actress to play the lead role of cyber policewoman Motoko Kusanagi, a role which has previously only been played by Asian actresses, was met with severe criticism.
“I certainly would never presume to play another race of a person,” insisted Ghost In The Shell’s lead actress Scarlett Johansson in March’s Marie Claire issue. “Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive”.
That didn’t stop her from accepting the role in the first place, but unfortunately, Hollywood is no stranger to whitewashing. Not too long ago, Marvel’s Doctor Strange fell into the hot seat with their casting of Tilda Swinton as the originally Tibetan character, Ancient One.
More recently, Netflix’s trailer for their upcoming movie adaptation of the popular Japanese manga series, Death Note, was slammed for featuring Nat Wolff in the main role.
Interestingly, Rob Chan, the president of Media Action Network For Asian Americans In The US, described Hollywood’s whitewashing as a “vicious cycle”.
He admitted that there’s a much greater risk of featuring a lesser known actor in a big budget role like Ghost In The Shell’s Major, but he also brought up the fact that Asian actors don’t become box office stars without roles like that either.
How do you feel about whitewashing in Hollywood?
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