Ghost in the Shell flop blamed on reviews, controversy

A Paramount executive has blamed Ghost in the Shell's poor box office performance on negative reviews and the film's white-washing controversy.

The Hollywood remake of the classic Japanese anime was slammed for casting Scarlett Johansson in the lead role of Major Motoko Kusanagi, voiced by Atsuko Tanaka in the original.

Paramount's version, partly filmed in Wellington, cost US$110 million to produce and pulled in just US$19m from the North American market on opening weekend.

Critically, the 2017 film has fared averagely, with a Tomatometer rating of 45 and a Metacritic rating of 52.

"We had hopes for better results [in North America]. I think the conversation regarding casting impacted the reviews," said Kyle Davies of Paramount Pictures.

"You've got a movie that is very important to the fanboys since it's based on a Japanese anime movie. So you're always trying to thread that needle between honouring the source material and make a movie for a mass audience.

"That's challenging, but clearly the reviews didn't help."

The original film itself was adapted from Masamune Shirow's beloved graphic novels, first published in 1989.

Johansson herself addressed the race representation problem of the film in an interview with Marie Claire.

"I certainly would never presume to play another race of a person," she said.

"Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive."

Ghost in the Shell is currently playing in New Zealand cinemas.