After the online petitions, the countless think pieces and Twitter tirades, Hollywood’s “Ghost in the Shell” was never going to have an easy passage. Rupert Sanders’ film — a $110 million live-action movie based on a beloved manga and anime property — was ill-fated from the start, tarnished by the controversy surrounding the decision to cast a white actor, Scarlett Johansson, in a role that was originally Japanese.

When Paramount Pictures released a photo last April of Johansson as cyborg ass-kicker Major Motoko Kusanagi, now simply known as The Major, it prompted a social media uproar that never abated. An online petition to instead cast an Asian actress drew more than 100,000 signatures. Each new trailer or marketing push for the film attracted a fresh load of invective from critics, many of them Asian-American, who accused it of “whitewashing” its Japanese source material.

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