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Paramount Brass Reflects On Ghost In The Shell’s Middling Domestic Bow

Reflecting on Ghost in the Shell's box office return, Paramount's Kyle Davies pointed to the whitewashing controversy as the biggest contributing factor.

Ghost in the Shell wasn’t the first – nor is it likely to be the last – of Hollywood’s English-language reboots to attract cries of whitewashing from the four corners of the industry, and much to the surprise of no one, that bubbling controversy cast a looming shadow from which Rupert Sanders’ live-action tentpole was unable to escape.

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A $19 million opening at the domestic box office against a budget of around $110 million is poor no matter which way you spin it, and sure enough, Paramount’s domestic distribution chief Kyle Davies posted a frank assessment of Ghost in the Shell‘s current box office performance while speaking with CBC (via The Playlist). In essence, Davies is under no illusion that the controversial casting of Scarlett Johansson as The Major didn’t clip the film’s wings early on, even if both Johansson and her director Rupert Sanders were quick to defend the creative decision at the outset.

Per CBC:

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.

The big question now is whether Ghost in the Shell will be able to recoup its production budget and at least break even. Paramount’s live-action cyberpunk thriller is yet to launch across China and Japan – both territories will receive the pic on Friday, April 7th – so there’s still room to play with, financially speaking. Even still, this is a far cry from the box office success that the studio was initially banking on, and surely these lowly numbers will silence any and all murmurings of a sequel.

For more Ghost in the Shell coverage, don’t forget to have a gander at our in-depth review, not to mention the latest episode of Cinemaholics, We Got This Covered’s weekly podcast, in which Jon Negroni and Maveryke Hines pick apart Rupert Sanders’ lavish blockbuster.