Ghost in the Shell, the Scarlett Johansson-fronted American live-action adaptation of the popular Japanese manga and anime series, flopped hard in American cinemas over the weekend, pulling in a miserable $19 million on a $110 million budget and landing third for the weekend behind the third week of Beauty and the Beast and its opening weekend competition (snort) The Boss Baby.
With the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear that this particular interpretation of Ghost was a lose/lose for filmmakers – choosing, as they did, to adapt a Japanese story with mostly white actors (and ignoring the foghorn-blast implications of the film’s own narrative w/r/t turning Asian people white). In doing so, and facing the controversy that spawned, they ended up alienating the property’s core fan base, leaving the film to flounder in the marketplace for an audience of people who didn’t know what Ghost in the Shell was (or, apparently, care).
Ghost’s failure is particularly glaring when stacked up against Johansson’s last solo action vehicle, 2014’s Lucy, which opened to more than twice Ghost’s business ($43 million), in spite of the fact that it wasn’t based on an existing entity. Which means it’s not that Johansson can’t open an action movie – it’s that she couldn’t open this one. Why, it’s almost enough to make you think studios shouldn’t automatically greenlight every single remake and that the entire “recognizable IP = money” model of current mainstream moviemaking is bullshit, huh?