Ghost in the Shell is not having a good time. The $110 million budget movie made a disappointing $18.7 million in the US on its opening weekend, which domestic distribution chief Kyle Davies is blaming on anime “fanboys” and social justice warriors. Here is what he had to say:
“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.“
Ghost in the Shell was caught up in a whitewashing controversy during production when Scarlett Johanson was revealed to be playing The Major. However, a majority of movie reviews didn’t bring up the controversy. In fact, most critics praised Johanson’s performance, with a majority of the criticism going towards the plot. Most critics felt the movie had a slapdash script that barely connected popular scenes from the anime and tried to turn the sci-fi movie into a revenge story.
In a 2016 interview, Rob Chan, president of Media Action Network For Asian Americans in the U.S., said that Ghost in the Shell‘s (at the time) potential failure would be less about whitewashing and more about straying away from the source material. He said, “If you don’t stay true to the source, it’s difficult to maintain an authenticity in the storytelling.”
Ghost in the Shell has earned $58.8 million at. the box office when you count international numbers. Paramount Pictures will hope for a big office hauling when the movie opens in Japan and China on April 7, 2017.