After being hyped for nearly a year, Ghost in the Shell was practically dead on arrival at the U.S. box office this weekend. Despite opening in 3,440 theaters nationwide on March 31st, Ghost in the Shell only grossed $19 million in its opening weekend, finishing behind both The Boss Baby, which also premiered March 31st, and Disney’s live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, which is in its third week of showings. So why did Ghost in the Shell perform so badly, especially given the amount of promotion Paramount Pictures pumped into the film, and with such beloved source material?
In part, it was that beloved source material which proved to be the film’s downfall. Throughout its production, Ghost in the Shell faced harsh “whitewashing” criticisms from fans of the original manga and anime. The filmmakers chose to mostly ignore the thoroughly Japanese culture of the original in favor of a more “international” flavor to the movie, which included casting caucasian actors in primary roles, including Scarlett Johansson in the lead part of Mira Killian/Motoko Kusanagi. In addition, there was extreme backlash from fans on Twitter after the film was released. Without revealing too much for those of you who haven’t seen the movie yet, there is a plot twist near the end of the movie which seems specifically contrived to explain the casting choices.
In addition to disappointing fans of the original Ghost in the Shell franchise, the live-action movie faced a market which traditionally isn’t kind to anime remakes; Astro Boy, Speed Racer, and Dragonball Evolution also fared poorly at the U.S. box office. Despite the $110 million budget, star-powered cast and PG-13 rating, not much could save Ghost in the Shell once the critics got ahold of it. The consensus seems to be that while the visual effects and score were impressive, and Johansson put in an admirable performance that exemplifies why she is so in-demand as an action star, overall, the live-action Ghost in the Shell was a hurried, lifeless, hot mess of a film. The New York Times review summed it up nicely: “Enjoy these [opening] credits because they offer some of the more arresting, inventive images in this visually cluttered yet often disappointingly drab movie.”
‘Amazing’ Final Fantasy Movie Inspired The Marvels Director
Generally, The Marvels is good. It has a 59 on Rotten Tomatoes, which isn’t great, but it’s better than Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania and Disney+’s Secret Invasion. Perhaps director Nia DaCosta’s video game inspirations contributed to that.
The American filmmaker said Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children influenced her latest film at a press junket with IGN. “It’s just an amazing movie, with great fight scenes and a great ending sequence with the main character being thrown into the sky by all the other characters,” she said.
Despite poor reviews upon release in 2005, Advent Children has become a Final Fantasy cult classic. DaCosta seems to agree that the film is a classic. PlayStation exclusives also influenced the Marvels.
In the interview, she said she didn’t want the superhero film to look “too much like a video game” but did draw from Sony’s biggest franchises, like The Last of Us and Horizon Zero Dawn. “For me, it was from the best games, the best stories that you get, that sort of inspires me to play, and I think inspires people to watch movies like this,” she said.
Since movies have shaped video games since their inception, it’s interesting to see the dynamic slowly changing. Now that technology and interactive storytelling are more complex, filmmakers are looking to PlayStation for inspiration.
Netflix raises prices again after strong subscriber growth
Netflix reported third-quarter earnings and is doing well. Revenue increased as the company added 9 million subscribers worldwide.
Netflix is also using this opportunity to raise the prices of some of its U.S., U.K., and French plans to differentiate ad-free plans from its entry-level ad-supported plan. New subscribers to the most expensive plan will pay $22.99 per month.
Let’s step back and examine Netflix’s current situation. Netflix cracked down on password sharing in its home market and dozens of others in May. The third quarter is the first full quarter under the new rules, so we can see the effect of password sharing.
The company removed the basic tier in the U.S. and U.K. two months ago to simplify its offering. People must pay a lot to remove Netflix ads.
Reports suggest that many customers are experiencing subscription fatigue and considering canceling some streaming subscriptions, but Netflix still has room for growth, especially with advertising revenue.
The company has 247.15 million subscribers. The number of subscribers increased 8.76 million this quarter. Netflix subscribers haven’t grown that much since Q2 2020, when Covid lockdowns were enforced worldwide.
Netflix earned $3.73 per share on $8.5 billion in revenue this quarter. As ads plan subscribers rise almost 70% quarter-over-quarter, ads are contributing more to the bottom line. Nearly a third of new subscribers use ads.
Netflix shares are up 13.75% pre-market ($393.79 per share) on good news for shareholders. However, subscribers will be unhappy because the company will raise prices for some plans again in three key markets. Full breakdown here.
In the U.S.:
- Standard with ads: $6.99 per month (no change)
- Basic (no longer available): $11.99 per month (up from $9.99)
- Standard: $15.49 per month (no change)
- Premium (with 4K streaming): $22.99 per month (up from $19.99)
In the U.K.:
- Standard with ads: £4.99 per month (no change)
- Basic (no longer available): £7.99 per month (up from £6.99)
- Standard: £10.99 per month (no change)
- Premium (with 4K streaming): £17.99 per month (up from £15.99)
- Standard with ads: €5.99 per month (no change)
- Basic (still available in France for now): €10.99 per month (up from €8.99)
- Standard: €13.49 per month (no change)
- Premium (with 4K streaming): €19.99 per month (up from €17.99)
New subscriptions start at these prices today. Bills for existing subscribers will rise in the coming weeks.
Last of Us HBO Showrunner Quietly Removes Name from Troubled Borderlands Flick
When your writer—one of Hollywood’s hottest—tries to hide their involvement, it’s a bad sign. The Borderlands film’s original script was written by Craig Mazin (The Last of Us, Chernobyl), who recently asked the WGA to use the pseudonym “Joe Crombie” instead of his name.
We hope this means Mazin considers Joe Abercrombie, Lord Grimdark, the grittiness GOAT, but that theory is unproven. Since Mazin wrote the script in 2015 for Eli Roth to direct, a steady stream of writers has been brought in. Aaron Berg, Chris Bremner, Sam Levinson, Zak Olkewicz, Tony Rettenmaier, Juel Taylor, and Oren Uziel have put around 70 fingers in the honey pot.
The name change likely avoids confusion. Mazin probably doesn’t want to be blamed for Jack Black/Claptrap madness, but he wants to keep his rights.
When this surprising star-studded film (Kevin Hart, Jamie Lee Curtis, Cate Blanchet) limps out, what are your expectations? We think this was supposed to coincide with Borderlands 3’s 2019 release, but it’s overshot the mark.
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