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Scarlett Johansson to star in ‘Ghost in the Shell’ (Updated with release date)

Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell

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.

Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the ShellJohansson’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.



Founder and DBP boss. Ryan likes the Kansas Jayhawks, long walks on the beach, and high fiving unsuspecting people.
1 Comment
  1. Jack Davis January 6, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    I’m not particularly worried about Scarlet’s ethnicity. The character of Motoko Kusanagi is ‘full-cyborg’ so her entire body is artificial. It has been such ever since she was about 10yrs old. She has updated it as she grew older, but it means that it can look like anything. She can update the looks to however she wants. In theory a japanese girl could order an adult cyborg body that is caucasion and sexy. If the writer is smart, they will work that into the story as it adds to the world building and takes only a few sentences to explain.

    Man:”Wait? Your name is Kusanagi? You don’t look japanese to me?”
    Kusanagi:”It’s a cyborg body, I can look any way I want. Could even be a man if I felt like it.”
    Man: *gives odd look*”Have you ever felt like it?”
    Kusanagi: *Gives coy half smile before looking away*

    This now explains aspects of cyborg bodies, why its perfectly ok for her to be played by ‘literally’ anybody, and in the example given builds character. I think SJ is a good actress, and based on the way she did Black Widow I think she’s a solid fit for the Major. Just my opinion, feel free to disagree.


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