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Ghost in the Shell: Scarlett Johansson stars in first photo from film

Paramount and Dreamworks announce the manga adaptation enters production in New Zealand

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Jasin Boland

Scarlett Johansson’s latest action vehicle, the upcoming Japanese anime adaptation Ghost in the Shell, has entered production in Wellington, New Zealand, according to Paramount and DreamWorks.

The studio giants also unveiled the first official image from the film’s set, which shows Scarlett Johansson sporting a short black bob as a character believed to be inspired by Motoko Kusanagi from the long line of comic books, video games, and animated films upon which the upcoming live-action adaptation is based. Paramount partnered with Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks following a dissolved distribution deal with Disney, the studio originally set to release the film.

A press release indicates the first non-animated Ghost in the Shell film follows “Major, a special ops, one-of-a-kind human-cyborg hybrid, who leads the elite task force Section 9,” who is “devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals and extremists” while “faced with an enemy whose singular goal is to wipe out Hanka Robotic’s advancements in cyber technology.”

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Amid recent Hollywood controversies like #OscarsSoWhite, DreamWorks came under fire following the announcement that it had cast Johansson in the lead role, given that the anime series’ lead is a Japanese woman while the Avengers actress is white. Several petitions opposing Johansson’s involvement appeared online, some garnering tens of thousands of signatures.

The film, which also stars Michael Pitt (Funny Games, Boardwalk Empire), Pilou Asbæk (A Family), and Japanese  entertainer Takeshi Kitano, will be directed by Rupert Sanders, who last helmed 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman. Avi Arad (Iron Man, The Amazing Spider-Man) and talent manager Steven Paul will produce from a script written by recent Oscar nominee Jonathan Herman (Straight Outta Compton) and Jamie Moss (Rise of the Planet of the Apes).

Johansson previously found success in the genre with her action vehicle Lucy, which grossed $463 million worldwide in 2014. She will next appear in Captain America: Civil War, opening in theaters May 6.

Ghost in the Shell will be released March 31, 2017.