The Ghost in the Shell live-action movie appears to be moving forward at last, after years of being stuck in development limbo. Scarlett Johansson was reportedly being eyed to lead the film a few months ago, after the powers that be behind the project - including DreamWorks head Steven Spielberg - were said to have considered Margot Robbie (who's since reached a deal to play Harley Quinn in the DC comic book movie Suicide Squad in 2016)... And now, it looks like Johansson's a lock.
Ghost in the Shell started out as a manga in the 1980s, then gave rise to a couple of anime film adaptations, as well as video games and a TV series titled Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex in 2002. The multi-platform sci-fi property, in its various iterations, tends to follow the exploits of counter-cyberterrorists in mid-21st century Japan, where much of the general public now have cybernetic brain implants.
The protagonist of Masumune Shirow's original 1989 Ghost in the Shell manga, Major Motoko Kusanagi, is likewise a cyborg, as the result of an incident from her childhood. It stands to reason that certain elements of the Kusanagi character's backstory will be carried over for Hollywood's live-action film take; though presumably, since Johansson is playing the role, the character will be American rather than Japanese (unless she winds up being half-Japanese, a la Keanu Reeves in 47 Ronin) and have a new name.
Deadline has provided the update on its original report, saying that Johansson has received a $10 million offer from DreamWorks for her to headline Ghost in the Shell (which she appears all but set to accept), placing her on a path to work alongside director Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) from a script by William Wheeler (The Reluctant Fundamentalist). The project is now moving along at a pace that a 2016 theatrical release date appears to be in order.
Ghost in the Shell, as with all other proposed live-action anime adaptations from Hollywood, has presented fans of the franchise with a quandary. The promise of a big-budgeted take on the series' futuristic setting and sci-fi concepts is tempting, but the concern that Ghost will become a generic sci-fi action/thriller (after being churned through the studio machine) is a fair one. And, of course, American-izing the property brings up prickly issues of race-swapping, and so forth.
Johansson's involvement helps ensure a big crowd will turnout for Ghost in the Shell. However, whereas Johansson's commercially-successful 2014 sci-fi action/thriller Lucy had the eccentric mind of Luc Besson behind it, Sanders hasn't proven himself to be so interesting as a director yet (though, he does know how to make cinematic eye candy). Ghost in the Shell's somewhat uninspired (read: predictable) lead casting choice doesn't exactly make up for that, either.
We'll bring you more information on Ghost in the Shell as it comes our way.