Scarlett Johansson to star in ‘Ghost in the Shell’ (Updated with release date)
Updated: The film has a release date. DreamWorks confirms that Ghost in the Shell will hit theaters on April 14, 2017.
For years now, Hollywood studios have been working on getting a live-action version of the wildly popular Japanese property Ghost in the Shell into production. It hasn’t had much success, but it looks like that might change, as one big piece of the puzzle has been added.
Variety is reporting that actress Scarlett Johansson has agreed to star in the film. DreamWorks, the studio behind the project, is said to have offered her the role weeks ago, but she has now officially signed on.
The film will be directed by Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman), based on the Japanese anime which is itself based on an original manga. The story has expanded exponentially since it was first introduced, but the original plot followed a special Japanese department dedicated to fighting technology-related crimes. The series raises several philosophical questions, including the rights of AI, and what it truly means to be alive.
Proposed films based on anime have had a rough time in Hollywood. If you need proof of that, just look at the sad history of one of the most popular anime properties in the world, Akira. There have been at least three separate projects dedicated to bringing that property to life, and none of them have taken. Akira, however, did not have Johansson.
Johansson’s signing did more than just add a big name to the film, it helped the studio to greenlight the project based on her involvement. Without her, the project would likely still be facing an uncertain future.
The film will work off of a screenplay from Bill Wheeler (The Reluctant Fundamentalist, The Hoax). It will be based off the original work by Masamune Shirow, but it’s unclear how much of that original work will survive. The casting of a Caucasian in a role that has traditionally been filled by Japanese is evidence enough that there will be some significant changes.
The location remains a question as well. Changing the location from Japan to the US wouldn’t fundamentally corrupt the original story, but it would likely anger fans. We should know more details soon.
No word on when DreamWorks is hoping to have the film in theaters. It is currently listed for a 2015 release, but that could – and probably will – change, given the futuristic setting and possible heavy reliance on CGI. Johansson is currently filming the Coen Brothers comedy Hail, Caesar!, and she’ll next appear on screen in Avengers: Age of Ultron.