Paramount continues to take a beating at the box office as Scarlett Johansson’s Ghost in the Shell is poised to lose the company (and Dreamworks) $60M or more. The sci-fi tale about a cyborg police unit had to give up the ghost against stiff competition and various other issues.
The live-action anime adaptation Ghost In The Shell, which at one point was expected to have a respectable $40M start in the United States, opened with a rather underwhelming $18.6M and doesn’t appear to be having substantial legs. Deadline is projecting that at the current rate, the movie is going to top out at about $200M worldwide, which is an estimated $60M+ loss when accounting for production and advertising costs. The only way that this can truly change is if the movie vastly overperforms expectations in the few markets it has yet to be released in, which include China, India, and Japan. Unfortunately, that’s not looking incredibly likely.
While it’s easy to blame the movie’s disappointing returns on the decision to cast a white actress as the Major (who is given the name of Motoko Kusanagi as an alias in the anime series Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex and is presumed to be Asian, though her actual ethnicity is never specified), there are a number of more important factors to consider with the movie’s performance. The first is that the film’s $110M budget was simply too high to allocate to a franchise that’s not widely-known in the United States outside of various circles of anime fandom. The second is that the ad campaign for the film had an incredibly hard time trying to sell the movie beyond its widely-praised visual effects, and that the ads were too cerebral in nature to interest casual audiences. And third, there just wasn’t enough social media buzz for the film, something that wasn’t helped by a bit of viral marketing that backfired spectacularly and the decidedly mixed reviews. Even if the ugly matter of whitewashing had been avoided by casting an up-and-coming Asian actress like Rinko Kikuchi in the lead role instead, the film likely would have suffered a financial loss all the same because of these problems.
There’s also the matter of the budget itself – some sources contacting Deadline have been led to believe that the movie’s budget was actually in the $180M range, which would make the total loss a costly $100M+ if such an assertion is true. Paramount had an incredibly disappointing 2016, and between the bombing of this movie and Monster Trucks, they’re going to need to make sure their remaining films make up for their earlier shortcomings. The plus side is that their other two Summer tent-poles seem to be hits in the making – Baywatch is apparently testing incredibly well, and Transformers: The Last Knight will bring in a substantial box office haul regardless of what the critics think of it. For now, however, the chances of making a movie franchise out of Ghost are pretty much toast at this point.
Anime Properties Hollywood Should Tackle Next
Japan has been a driving force in the world of technology and gaming, but is also known for their animation. Anime series and films have become popular worldwide. Shows like Naruto and DragonBall Z are household names throughout the world. This popularity has carried over and gotten the attention of Hollywood with the occasional dip into these popular properties. The influence of anime is seen throughout Hollywood productions, but most notably in the hit franchise, The Matrix. While it is a challenging endeavor to adapt anime there have been attempts to do so, including Netflix’s Death Note Film as well as the live-action Ghost in the Shell. It’s an interesting time to look over how Hollywood adapts anime and which ones deserve to be given an American treatment.
Here are 10 anime properties that Hollywood should tackle next