With increasing pressure on studios to hype their big blockbusters as much as possible before their release, some are pulling out some new tricks to keep the wave of excitement flowing. Paramount has announced that it’s offering a free preview, in IMAX, of Scarlett Johansson’s Ghost in the Shell, in fourteen cities nationwide before the film officially hits theaters.
The government is not to be trusted, not at present and certainly not in the trippy future Japan of Ghost in the Shell. Major Motoko Kusanagi (Scarlett Johansson) has been led to believe that she endured some manner of terrible accident in life, and the police department salvaged her body by augmenting it with cybernetic implants. In exchange for a second chance at consciousness, all she has to do is devote herself to fearlessly cleaning the street of crime and to surrender what’s left of her free will; naturally, she has some doubts about this. And when she meets an enigmatic stranger warning her that all is not what it seems, her whole understanding of who the bad guys are starts to shift.
Two movies steeped in the very same kind of controversy are about to hit theaters: The Great Wall, whose casting of Matt Damon in the lead role of a movie ostensibly about a fantastical spin on Chinese history is laughable at best, and Ghost in the Shell, which cast Scarlett Johanssen in a role that is, for all intents and purposes, a Japanese woman. Well, robot-woman. Both sets of actors from both films have tried their best to find ways around this whitewashing issue, with many involved in The Great Wall calling it a “cross-cultural” story of “an outsider.” Johanssen recently addressed accusations of whitewashing leveled at her own movie, and unfortunately she doesn’t really get it.
Ah, the Super Bowl: the one magical night each year in which the nation unites under the binding forces of domestic macrobrewed beer, buffalo chicken wings, and good ol’ American football. Everyone’s got something to enjoy at the big game, whether that’s the competition itself or, for those of us unable to enjoy sporting events due to PTSD over a childhood of getting picked last, trailers for a movie in which Scarlett Johansson plays a sexy police robot. The Super Bowl regularly doubles as the premiere for a handful of brand new previews of upcoming blockbusters, and Paramount has done us all the solid of giving us a three-day jump on the fun.
Before Scarlett Johansson launched a thousand essays by taking on the role of Motoko Kusanagi, the cybernetic crimefighter was nothing more than a drawing. The original Ghost in the Shell anime debuted in 1995 and blew audiences away with its futuristic cyberpunk aesthetic, influencing everything from The Matrix to the Star Wars prequels. In the film, the robotic government agent cuts through the dystopian world of 2029 in search of the Puppet Master, a sentient computer virus taking over human hosts and causing havoc. The film’s flashy Hollywood remake is only a couple months away on March 31, but before that, the original will infiltrate theaters in a special engagement.
Last week, Wes Anderson (with special guest Edward Norton) released a video promoting a charity campaign for his new animated project, Isle of Dogs. Every $10 donation to Crowdrise counts as one sweepstakes entry, and gives Anderson fans (Fandersons?) the opportunity to lend their voice to the film. That’s a pretty sweet deal, but if you’ve got $10,000 laying around, you can also snag a limited edition concept art print — which just happens to give us another look at Anderson’s new animated aesthetic.
With 2016 almost over, thankfully, it’s time to turn our collective attention to everything we’re excited for in the new year. Our staff even drew up a list of all the movies we’re most anticipating, and among those is the Ghost in the Shell adaptation starring Scarlett Johansson. To say that the movie remains controversial would be an understatement, but we can’t deny that it looks stunning. There’s even a new image from the movie to prove it.
Near the end of every year, Forbes releases their rankings of the top actors in Hollywood based on their box-office value and earnings (along with a list of the most overpaid actors, which is always interesting). This year, Scarlett Johansson tops the list of the highest-grossing actors in Hollywood, followed closely by Marvel co-stars Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr., who tied for second place. What makes Johansson’s ranking even more notable, however, is her earnings — while RDJr. placed ninth on this year’s list of the highest-paid actors with $33 million, Johansson ranked third on the actress list with $25 million.
We already know Avengers: Infinity War is going to be huge, with the current MCU arcs building toward a crossover event that promises to be the studio’s biggest yet — even bigger than Captain America: Civil War. According to previous comments made by directors Joe and Anthony Russo, Infinity War will feature dozens of characters from the Marvel universe, including Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord and Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel. As for the rest of the lineup, we can only make educated guesses, but a new casting call may have spilled the beans.
Wes Anderson popped back up last month with a charming holiday-appropriate commercial for H&M, his first new work since 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. It was neat, but a pale substitute for a new feature. Fortunately, Anderson fans (or, as we’re more commonly called, Wes Fan-dersons) can take solace that his next major effort is well on its way: Anderson resurfaced today with a three-minute video in which he introduces the cast and first snippet of footage from his upcoming Isle of Dogs, a stop-motion animated project that returns to the talking-animal precocity of Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox.