‘Boss Baby’ Beats ‘Ghost in the Shell’ in the Box Office After Whitewashing Controversy

The animated comedy Boss Baby has beat Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Scarlett Johansson’s Ghost in the Shell in the box office. Early estimates released on Sunday shows DreamWorks animation took home $49 million. The movie featured Alec Baldwin and narrowly dethroned Disney’s two-week box office hit movie. The live-action Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson took in $48 million in its third weekend.

Ghost in the Shell backlash

Ghost in the Shell
PUTRAJAYA, MALAYSIA – FEBRUARY 15, 2017: Ghost in the Shell movie poster. This movie is about a cyborg policewoman attempts to bring down a nefarious computer hacker. (Faiz Zaki / Shutterstock.com)

Meanwhile, Paramount’s Ghost in the Shell could not compete with the baby. The sci-fi remake of the hit Japanese anime opened with only $19 million, which is a bad start for a movie that cost $110 million to make. However, it is important to note that the feature film ran into a lot of controversy after producers cast Scarlett Johansson. Many fans called the casting decision another instance of whitewashing in Hollywood. In fact, days before the release of the movie the Asian American media group bashed the film.

“Apparently, in Hollywood, Japanese people can’t play Japanese people anymore,” MANAA President Robert Chan said in a report to the press. “There’s no reason why either Motoku or Hideo could not have been portrayed by Japanese or Asian actors instead of Scarlett Johansson and Michael Pitt. We don’t even get to see what they looked like in their original human identities — a further whitewash.”

Scarlett Johansson - Ghost in the Shell Box Office
NEW YORK – MARCH 29: Scarlett Johansson is seen in Midtown on March 29, 2017, in New York City. (Liam Goodner / Shutterstock.com)

In response to the backlash, Scarlett Johansson argued that the character she is playing is “identity-less.”

“I think this character is living a very unique experience, in that she is a human brain in an entirely machinate body,” Johansson said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” last this week. “She’s essentially identity-less. … I would never attempt to play a person of a different race, obviously.”

But, the backlash started way before the movie went into production. In fact, a Screen Crush report argued that producers reportedly wanted to hire a special effects company to make Johansson look less white.