DreamWorks is taking steps to make its live-action adaptation of the venerable Ghost in the Shell franchise, and they’ve picked a director with experience in turning lady-led action into undeniable box office success.
According to Deadline, the film has just gotten a new script treatment from William Wheeler, writer for The Reluctant Fundamentalist, several episodes of The Cape, a Jodie Foster-directed project that goes by the name Brand, and Queen of Katwe, a film based on the life of teenage Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi, to be directed by Mira Nair. So that’s an interesting guy to put behind a cyberpunk story about a female human/cyborg shooting guns and battling hackers, terrorists, and machine intelligences. And by interesting, I mean that’s a body of work that may contain exactly the kind of nuance that would give a movie about a woman with cyborg parts firing guns, driving fast cars, and beating up bad guys a cyberbrain, not just some bionic prostheses.
DreamWorks is confident enough Wheeler’s script that they’ve moved forward on the project to tap Rupert Sanders to direct. Okay, now hang on. I’ll be the first to admit that Snow White and the Huntsman was not good. I would argue that its biggest problems came not from directing, but from basic writing problems with poorly-thought through themes, script structure, and pacing. It wasn’t good, but instead it was a very commercially successful movie featuring a female action lead that immediately ignited sequel talk. Bad action movies with men in the lead that make oodles of money and get sequels are a dime a dozen, while the fear of a flop simply because the lead is a woman pervades Hollywood. SWatH proves that a female-led action film does not need to be perfect to be profitable, and the more Hollywood understands that, the more like we are to see the industry take chances on on women in action films, which means we are more likely to see female-led action films that we actually want to watch more than once.
Will Ghost in the Shell be one of those? I’m optimistic. Sanders still has to find time in his schedule to get the production going, but with Steven Spielberg reportedly the person gunning for DreamWorks to pick up the rights in the first place, the project is unlikely to disappear. There’s even a chance we might get that Spielberg producing credit.