This might be a surprise (or not), but Hollywood’s adaptation of Ghost in the Shell has been taking a critical and financial beating.
Ghost in the Shell opened at #3 at the U.S. box office in a weak movie weekend and only managed to rack in $18.7 million. The international numbers were better, as the movie pulled in $40.1 million, bringing the total box office earnings to $58.8 million.
However, it cost $110 million to produce Ghost in the Shell and that’s not counting the marketing budget, which could easily cost another $50 million. Opening weekends are incredibly important to big budget movies since they make most of their money during this time, with the goal to at least break even when you combine domestic and international earnings.
It also doesn’t help that Ghost in the Shell has been trashed on by movie critics. The consensus is that while the visuals look fantastic, the story is a jumbled mess. Instead of tackling the ethics issue of android bodies or focusing the concept of humanity, the movie is just a collection of set pieces that lack coherence…and that’s before the big racial undertones during the finale.
It turns out [highlight for spoilers: Scarlett Johanson’s Mira Killian character was actually a Japanese woman named Motoko Kusanagi. When she died, Hanka Robotics rebuilt her as the perfect woman with unmatched talent and beauty…by turning the Japanese woman Caucasian. Many critics lamented that this plot twist could have worked if the movie was willing to explore cultural identity or as social commentary, but it was just slapped on out of nowhere. Presumably, this “twist” was added towards the end of filming to bury the whitewashing criticism. This argument is given credence due to how Kusanagi’s original body is never shown.]
In the end, Ghost in the Shell finds its place on a long list of Hollywood’s failed adaptations of anime.