After the live-action manga adaptation Ghost in the Shell got trounced by DreamWorks Animation's The Boss Baby this past weekend, Paramount distribution chief Kyle Davies revealed that the whitewashing controversy swirling around the film played a big factor in its lackluster opening numbers. The sci-fi action thriller, starring global superstar Scarlett Johansson, debuted in third place, behind The Boss Baby and Disney's Beauty and the Beast, earning just $18.6 million, Now it's believed that this movie will result in a huge loss for the studio. A new report claims that Paramount could lose as much as $60 million
Deadline reports that Ghost in the Shell is predicted to top out globally at $200 million, with roughly $50 million from the domestic market and $150 million from international territories. While the budget was publicly revealed as $110 million, the combined total of the production budget and the publicity and advertising budget (P&A) is roughly $250 million. Some sources believe that the actual production budget was much higher, with some estimating the actual budget to be around $180 million, which would push the studio's losses for the Scarlett Johansson film to over $100 million.
As of now, Ghost in the Shell has earned $23 million domestically and $50.6 million internationally for a worldwide tally of $73.6 million. Even if it posts a miraculously minimal second-frame drop this weekend, it will likely be too little, too late, especially considering that it will face the surefire blockbuster The Fate of the Furious next week. The movie does have one other shot at a box office miracle, though, opening in its final international markets this weekend, starting April 7, one of them being China, and the other being Japan, the country where the original manga was created. but this new report doesn't think the Chinese or Japanese markets could bail out this failed manga adaptation.
There have been recent examples where the Chinese market alone saves a movie from complete failure. Universal's Warcraft earned just $47 million domestically, but it fared much better overseas with an international take of $386.3 million, $220.8 million of which came from China alone. A Pacific Rim sequel was pushed into production largely due to its success in the Chinese marketplace, but this report from Deadline doesn't think that Ghost in the Shell will be a hit in China, since sci-fi movies rarely fare well in the Middle Kingdom. As for Japan, box office pundits are predicting a $45 million gross in the country, and while Japanese audiences reportedly aren't offended by the "whitewashed" casting of Scarlett Johansson as The Major, a character dubbed Major Kusanagi in the manga, it is believed that the debut of The Fate of the Furious on April 12 will hurt Ghost in the Shell's box office chances in Japan more than the controversy.
The Ghost in the Shell adaptation was also hurt by negative movie reviews, with the movie scoring just a 46% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is just below the 50% score for The Boss Baby, which came out on top last weekend with $50.1 million. Ghost in the Shell's huge loss does not come at a great time for Paramount, just after the studio's massive $1 billion deal with China-based Shanghai Film Group and HuaHua Media falling through. Given all of the whitewashing controversy that this movie endured, which likely had a big impact in its box office failure, it remains to be seen if studios will look at Ghost in the Shell as a cautionary tale, one that they may heed moving forward, especially when it comes to "whitewashed" casting.