As we reported recently, despite the fact that Disney dropped Ghost in the Shell from its release schedule, fear not — Paramount and Universal are still distributing the DreamWorks film, and today, we’ve learned that it has finally started production in Wellington, New Zealand. The film stars Scarlett Johansson as Major, a special ops leader who also happens to be a unique human-cyborg hybrid, and is being directed by Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman). Paramount also released the first image for the film, which you can see below (click for the full size).
Last month, we also learned that Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire, and the first Mason Verger on NBC’s Hannibal) is set to play the movie’s antagonist, a villainous hacker named Kuze, a.k.a. Laughing Man, who is also part robot. Laughing Man is a character pulled from the 2000s anime series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, rather than the manga, which featured a charactered called Puppeteer / Puppet Master. As our own Dave Trumbore explained at the time:
While the decision not to include the Puppeteer/Puppet Master is a little disappointing considering the rich thematic material that particular villain brought to the story, Laughing Man might actually be an easier sell for today’s audiences. This isn’t your typical bad guy, just like Kusanagi’s Public Security Section 9 aren’t your typical good guys. The Laughing Man is an anti-corporate terrorist and social media-savvy super-hacker who is able to mask his identity by both real-time manipulation of video feeds and cybernetic brains. His trademark logo – which, along with his moniker, was inspired by J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” – masks his face. His part to play is certainly an interesting on in the series, and one that Pitt could do quite well with, as long as he doesn’t mind hiding behind a smiley face logo the whole movie a la V for Vendetta.
The movie also stars Beat Takeshi Kitano as Daisuke Aramaki, Juliette Binoche as Dr. Ouelet, Pilou Asbæk as Batou, as well as Kaori Momoi. The members of Section 9 are played by Chin Han, Danusia Samal, Lasarus Ratuere, Yutaka Izumihara, and Tuwanda Manyimo.
Ghost in the Shell will premiere in the U.S. March 31st, 2017. Here’s the official synopsis:
Based on the internationally-acclaimed sci-fi property, “GHOST IN THE SHELL” follows the Major, a special ops, one-of-a-kind human-cyborg hybrid, who leads the elite task force Section 9. Devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals and extremists, Section 9 is faced with an enemy whose singular goal is to wipe out Hanka Robotic’s advancements in cyber technology.