About a year ago, Hollywood was ablaze with the #OscarSoWhite controversy encouraging studios to give more opportunities to “women and actors of color.” Not just opportunities, but equal opportunities. Giving little thought to what the viewing audience wanted, studios jumped in with immediate change.
The first few films saw studios take male roles and swap out the leads with women. Sony kicked things off with a remake of Ghostbusters starring women in the originally created male roles and placed men in the supporting roles. The film was a financial flop falling short of its breakeven point by $70MM.
Instead of doing a remake with women, Warner Brothers altered the formula slightly by creating Ocean’s 8 to contrast the Clooney/Pitt franchise. The story is about Danny Ocean’s sister pulling together a female team to knock off the crime of the century by hitting New York City’s star-studded annual Met Gala. Analysts are already suggesting that the films’ June 8, 2018 release will fall far short of its all-star cast budget.
Marvel varied the swap out mix when it announced its decision to change Iron Man to a female lead. The next plot has Tony Stark walking from his Iron Man persona; a black woman who’ll be called Ironheart fills the void. Since the largest grossing actor in the world, Robert Downey Jr., plays Stark/Iron Man and Ironheart is played by a relative unknown, analysts fear Marvel will be forced to slash its budget dramatically to counter for a huge drop at the box office.
Disgruntled fans of the above films demanded their franchises not be destroyed by swapping out men for women in lead roles, but instead suggested the women be given their own stories/films/franchises. But how’s that going?
A couple studios green-lit tentpole films starring women in roles originally written for females. Scarlett Johansson was tagged to star as Major in Paramount’s blockbuster film Ghost in the Shell. And, Gal Gadot was cast in the large budget Wonder Woman.
Ghost in the Shell was the first tentpole film to release and flop due to pressure from the social media PC police. A minority group of Americans hyped the Internet with words about Scarlett Johansson “whitewashing” the “Asian” role. The stir caused many to wait for the video rather than packing out the box office.
Analysts thought the Johansson vehicle would succeed because it was based on a highly supported title and would give anime its long overdue exposure to the global marketplace. No one expected the social media police would assume that the non-descript racial role of the woman inside of the shell was actually Asian and blast Johansson for “whitewashing” the role.
Those interviewed in the Asia Pacific region were shocked that Americans took offences on their behalf. Contrary to social media’s PC comments most Asians love Johansson’s work and wanted to see her fan base drive the global proliferation of big budget anime, but the social police brought an end to that dream.
The social media PC police also attacked Gal Gadot for shaving her Wonder Woman armpits. The outpouring caused Warner Brothers to put the film back into postproduction and color her light under arm skin tones a darker shade. This childish turmoil forced Warner Brothers to consider how social media might negatively impact their budget, which likely was the cause of the evaporation of its massive ad dollars—the film is now being promoted with a fraction of its original budget.
Taking roles away from men rather than giving new roles to women isn’t working at the box office. Nor is one minority group hindering a film featuring other minority leads. Both bad choices leave the field open for male driven films to bring in the box office money—the least risky films for studios to make. And, politically the least diverse films.