Much like the US adaptation of classic sci-fi manga Akira, DreamWorks' live-action Ghost in the Shell movie has been in the development for years and progress has been pretty slow. It now seems like Ghost in the Shell may beat Akira to the big screen, however, as earlier this year Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders was selected to direct the film and Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street) was recently reported to be in talks for the lead role.
Originally published in 1989, Masamune Shirow's Ghost in the Shell manga series is set in 2029 and follows a special operations team called Public Security Section 9, which is led by cyborg protagonist Major Motoko Kusanagi. In the future depicted in Ghost in the Shell many members of the public have brains with cybernetic parts, which allows them to access computer networks, but also leaves them vulnerable to having their memories altered or senses taken over by hackers.
The producers' talks with Robbie have now fallen through (she's now in talks for Suicide Squad instead), but Deadline reports that DreamWorks has made a $10 million dollar offer to The Avengers actor Scarlett Johansson. Although Marvel Studios has yet to announce a Black Widow movie in which Johansson's character would take the lead, she recently starred in Luc Besson's sci-fi action film Lucy, which grossed over $400 million worldwide despite its R rating. It's easy to see why Johansson would become much more coveted as an action star after that.
Ghost in the Shell has been adapted many times before; the anime films Ghost in the Shell and Innocence were released in 1995 and 2004, respectively, and there have also been several video games based on the manga, as well as a television series and the recent direct-to-video film series Ghost in the Shell: Arise.
In addition to being the first Ghost in the Shell adaptation produced outside of Japan, DreamWorks' film will also be the first live-action feature based on Shirow's manga series. William Wheeler (The Reluctant Fundamentalist) wrote the current version of the screenplay, and with casting already in progress the production could begin as early as next year.
Although we're still a few years away from fitting our brains with cyborg parts, a Ghost in the Shell film would be particularly relevant in an age where reliance on the internet has left many people at risk of hacking and intelligence-gathering. Let us know in the comments if you think Johansson would be a good fit to play Motoko Kusanagi (or whatever name the character ends up with in the film).
We'll keep you updated on Ghost in the Shell as development continues.