This wasn't a good opening weekend for Paramount's live-action Ghost in the Shell. Nope, not at all. The controversial remake of the classic manga only hit $19M domestically and about double that overseas, although the key markets in Japan and China will have the final say. All of this despite, or because of, the casting of Scarlett Johansson as The Major, a role many say should have gone to a Japanese actress. I've made my point numerous times that I think people have their heads up their asses on this one; that to the best of my (or anybody else's) knowledge cyborgs have no ethnicity, and people are just getting upset because they feel they should. And I can say this while admitting Paramount fucked themselves by trying to apologize, within the damn story, for a casting decision when they would've been smart to just leave things alone. They made matters worse.
And apparently Paramount recognizes they made a tactical error. Their domestic distribution chief Kyle Davies spoke with CBC and admits the whitewashing controversy hurt their bottom line in a big way, at least here in the United States...
"We had hopes for better results domestically. I think the conversation regarding casting impacted the reviews. 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 honoring the source material and make a movie for a mass audience. That’s challenging, but clearly the reviews didn’t help.”
Nah, the reviews weren't good, playa. But what's worse is the social media backlash where people who haven't even seen the movie are taking great glee at its failure. In one case, a now former Facebook friend took to posting spoilers two days before it was released, totally unannounced, as a means of keeping people from buying a ticket. That's just ridiculous. I get that Hollywood needs to work on its cultural sensitivity, but this isn't Exodus: Gods and Kings and this isn't Warner Bros. casting Garrett friggin' Hedlund in Akira. Was Ghost in the Shell perfect? Hardly. Should you see it and see if this whitewashing thing holds any credibility whatsoever? I think so.