Global box-office projections indicate that Rupert Sanders’ live-action adaptation of the classic manga “Ghost in the Shell” stands to lose at least $60 million.
Deadline reports that current projections have the film slated to earn $50 million domestically and $150 million internationally for a combined box-office take of $200 million.
The official production budget was $110 million but sources have pegged it much higher – as closer to $180 million – which, combined with marketing & publicity costs, brings the bill to Paramount and Dreamworks at approximately $250 million.
The whitewashing controversy surrounding Scarlett Johansson’s casting as Major Motoko Kusanagi was said to have hurt the film according to Paramount’s domestic distribution chief Kyle Davies. Speaking with CBC, Davies was candid about the reception to the film which opened to $19 million last weekend:
“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.”
Coming at a time of greater cultural awareness about racial, gender and sexuality issues and the lack of diversity on screen, the push for Johansson in the lead was puzzling beyond obvious box-office appeal. As reviews came out which indicated the film not only borrowed all the original’s iconography without really acknowledging the culture, but in fact made a fumbled take on the diversity issue a central element of the second half, the backlash took hold.