It’ll be interesting to see how Ghost in the Shell plays out at the box office when it arrives in theater on March 31, 2017. The live-action adaptation has been fraught with controversy ever since Scarlett Johansson was cast in the lead role back in 2015. But while manga/anime purists like myself see Johansson as wrong for the character — one the film has at least tacitly acknowledged by changing her name* from Major Motoko Kusanagi to simply “The Major” — there’s no way of knowing if the whitewashing controversy penetrated the movie-goer bubble or if it’s simply too inside baseball for the masses to care.
*Of course, with Japanese actress Kaori Momoi playing Johansson’s mother, it’s possible they’re going with another terrible trope popularized by Marvel’s Psylocke of putting a brain/psyche of a minority into the body of a white person.
So, will folks turn out to see Scarlet Johansson in a cyberpunk action movie? Her turn in Lucy proves ScarJo can carry a sci-fi film. But Lucy only had a budget of $40 million compared to what will no doubt be a higher production cost of GITS, based simply on the special effects budget seen in the trailers. A higher risk comes with the potential for a higher reward, but also a bigger marketing budget to whet audiences appetites. The double-edged sword there is each new piece of marketing also reminds fans (and potentially the core demographic) of the controversy surrounding the casting of the main character. With all that in mind, do these motion posters for GITS make you more excited to see the film or not?