NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
The casting of Scarlett Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi has caused an uproar as yet another example in a string of high-profile incidents of “whitewashing” in Hollywood.
But the man widely known for directing the 1995 anime movie adaptation of Ghost in the Shell doesn’t see any issue with her assuming the role of the Major.
“What issue could there possibly be with casting her?” Mamoru Oshii told IGN by email. “The Major is a cyborg and her physical form is an entirely assumed one. The name ’Motoko Kusanagi’ and her current body are not her original name and body, so there is no basis for saying that an Asian actress must portray her. Even if her original body (presuming such a thing existed) were a Japanese one, that would still apply.”
The director went on to say, “I believe having Scarlett play Motoko was the best possible casting for this movie. I can only sense a political motive from the people opposing it, and I believe artistic expression must be free from politics.”
Oshii also doesn’t believe the live-action adaptation needs to adhere strictly to the way everything was portrayed in his animated film. He said director Rupert Sanders should take some creative liberties. “If this is to be a remake of the anime, I don’t think it’s necessary to remain faithful to the way things were expressed in the anime. The director should exercise his directorial freedom as much as possible. If he doesn’t do so, there would be no point in remaking it,” he explained.
Sanders told CNET last week, “I stick behind my decision to cast the actress I felt was best in the role. I feel that [Scarlett Johansson] channeled the Major better than anyone else I could have thought of.” Sanders continued, “She’s the best actress of my generation and her generation, and the person I felt most embodied the physicality and the ability to inhabit that role.”
Paramount’s live-action movie doesn’t open in theaters until March 31, but you can pick up a copy of Oshii’s beloved original right now on Blu-ray, as the Ghost in the Shell Limited Edition Steelbook with exclusive Mondo artwork is now available on on Blu-ray and Digital HD.
Weying, one of China’s leading film ticketing firms, has taken a minority financial stake in Ghost in the Shell.
The investment was made through Weying Galaxy Entertainment, Weying’s Hong Kong-based joint venture, which was set up in December to invest in international movies. The deal gives Weying a 10 percent share of global ticket revenue, along with a logo in the film’s end credits. Gary Locke, Washington’s former governor and the former U.S. ambassador to China, serves as a special adviser to Weying Galaxy,
Weying first partnered with Paramount as a local marketing partner on XXX: The Return of Xander Cage, which has earned $163 million in China since its release on Feb. 10 — more than three times its North American haul.
More than 70 percent of all movie tickets are sold online in China — compared to an estimated 20 percent in the United States — making such the service is an indispensable part of film marketing in the country.
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