Back in 2008 Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks acquired the rights to make a live-action version of Ghost In The Shell. Nobody has ever attempted a real-world rendition of the cult manga/anime franchise before, amazing given the Japanese’s penchant for doing just that. If you throw a rock at the Japanese film industry, you are more likely to hit an adaptation than even a Yakuza plot.
Yet it took until early 2014 before a director was attached: Rupert Sanders of Snow White and the Huntsman fame. Not exactly exciting news, but things are looking up. Last year it surfaced that the current geek fanboy pinup, Scarlett Johansson, was approached to star in the movie. The latest news is that she’s agreed to join the project, which must have caused some dancing in Dreamworks’ corridors.
It’s a big coup for the production, which really needed a star name attached to it – and few young stars bring the kind of clout that Johansson has cultivated over the past few years. In fact, it’s hard to think of any female actor previous to her that actually had the pop culture gravitas to carry Ghost In The Shell. Angelina Jolie comes closest during her Tomb Raider hey-day, but that’s about it.
Not everyone is happy, particularity this Forbes contributer (but he’s a white bearded guy who lives in Japan and covers pop culture, so no real surprises there). Apparently Johansson was offered $10 million, which is twice the budget of the original animated film. So this creates a paradox for geeks, who love Johansson and spit on anything they don’t deem a pure-as-snow adaptation. Few properties are as revered as Ghost In The Shell, so this will no doubt cause a lot of ire, gnashing of sugar-stained teeth and angry blog posts written by one hand.
There will also be the prerequisite speculation: will Johansson play the lead role and does that mean she’ll be naked half of the time? Yes, you can see her birthday suit in Under The Skin, but that was a slightly heady film and a bit beyond many fans who get thoughts by rubbing their IQ together.
Anyway, enough bait posting. What I would add is that this project’s future will hinge on the success of Jupiter Ascending, the Wachowski epic due to launch in February. That will show what kind of appetite the world currently has for edgy cyberpunk science fiction. If Johansson is being paid $10 million, this adaptation is certainly going to cost north of $100 million, probably more. If the Kunis/Tatum vehicle bombs, Ghost In the Shell might just find itself unplugged and back on the shelf.
Last Updated: January 6, 2015