Regardless of what you think about the White Washing scandal that has surrounded the release of Ghost In the Shell starring Scarlett Johansson, the reality is now setting in that the movie is set to lose at the box office… big time.
In it’s opening weekend, the movie took in just over 18.5 million dollars domestically, placing third behind The Boss Baby and Disney’s Beauty and The Beast remake. As of the the 5th of this month (Wed), it was up to a total of $23,072,150. This is a huge problem for the Paramount/DreamWorks-Reliance team up that made the film happen. Reports have the film’s production cost as close to $180 mil and the film’s promotion and advertising budget as close to $250 mil.
Globally, the film needs to make around $430 Million to break even. Based on lackluster audience reactions to the film and extremely mixed reviews, it’s really no surprise that the film fell short of it’s global opening projection of $200M ($50M domestic, $150M international). At three days into the next week, the reality is that the film is still at less than half of what they wanted domestically for the opening weekend ($23 million) and 1/3 of what they wanted internationally ($50 million).
As far as who is set to lose how much, Deadline is reporting that DreamWorks and Paramount could lose as much as $20 million each, the Chinese groups who helped finance the film could lose a lot more.
So why did it fail? According to some, it’s the backlash against the casting of Johannhson and the subsequent literal whitewashing that occurs in the story. To others, this was just a bad investment. One film financier had this to say:
“This is the amount of money you spend on a sequel, not an obscure piece of IP that only a few fanboys know about! Maybe you spend $35M or $40M on this and make a stylized art house film.”
Another reason the film’s costs ballooned is that Johansson signed on tot he film in January of 2015, but was unavailable to film until November. The studios stuck with her and had to eat the costs that come along with delaying film production.
Finally, many people think that a lot of the movie’s projected failure has to do heavily with bad marketing. Even DreamWorks was allegedly unhappy with the direction of the promotional campaign for the film, but Paramount was in charge of that task so there was nothing they could really do about it. DreamWorks felt that they should have done a better job of leveraging Scarlett’s Marvel and Lucy pedigree, framing the film as a heroic, techno action thriller. Instead, it was pushed out as a hyper-stylish cyber noir revenge tale.
For their part, it seems like Paramount claims they did the best with what they had: an emotionless character fighting a corrupt system. They also claim that the costuming was an issue as many fans did not recognize Johansson as a brunette.
So… is there a silver lining to this story? Hopefully, it means we won’t be seeing an Akira film any time soon, even if the idea of Jordan Peele as the director was interesting.