News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by
Arts & Entertainment

On the Lot: 'Ghost in the Shell' fails to resonate, Academy at a crossroads and more

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 27:  An advertisement for the upcoming movie
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 27: An advertisement for the upcoming movie "Ghost in the Shell" is displayed at CinemaCon at Caesars Palace on March 27, 2017 in Las Vegas, United States. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/WireImage)
Gabe Ginsberg

Listen to story

Download this story 3MB

Over the weekend the film "Ghost in the Shell" failed to resonate with a wider audience and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finds itself at a crossroads.

For more on the business of Hollywood, A Martinez spoke to Take Two's On the Lot guide, Rebecca Keegan. She's Hollywood correspondent for Vanity Fair.

Ghost in the Shell

The part fantasy, part mystery, part thriller starring Scarlett Johansson opened up on Friday to lukewarm box office numbers. This could be in part because of scathing early reviews but it might be in part because of the whitewashing controversy it was never quite able to shake. 

However, as Rebecca explains, the studio did try different strategies to distance itself from the debacle:

"One thing I've heard from folks at Paramount is that they had done focus groups on this issue to see at what extent do audiences care about it. One thing that they found is that while it is a very talked about issue among folks like me, people who cover film, film critics, it's not as big of an issue for audiences.

So, I think they thought maybe audiences wouldn't care that much... and interestingly even less of an issue for audiences in Asian countries. Seems worth noting that this movie opened at number one in Hong Kong and Taiwan. It'll open on Friday in Japan and China, presumably do fairly well there..."

Academy changes

It's been a little over a month since the biggest gaffe in Oscar history and while the Academy heals, it also enters a period of change. It's been one of the most revolutionary eras in its history, and a change of  leadership is on the horizon.

"The Academy is kind of at crossroads and I wrote about this for Vanity Fair last week. The president of the Academy Cheryl Boone Isaacs who has run the organization for the last four years is terming out, so she will not be able to lead starting at the end of the summer. 

And the CEO Dawn Hudson has her contract up for renewal this month. These are two people who have really spearheaded the biggest changes at the Academy including diversity initiatives and the Academy museum, so it should be interesting to see what happens next."

Joss takes on Batgirl?

Joss Whedon is rumored to be poised to take on a Batgirl movie. He's got some cred when it comes to strong female leads and the comic book universe. This could be big for DC.

"I know Joss Whedon is the creator of the 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' TV show, much beloved, strong female lead. And as you say, he's got an Avengers background, so this is him jumping teams from Marvel to DC. Big deal in the comic book world."

To listen to the full segment, click the blue play button above.