Ghost in the Shell: First look at Scarlett Johansson as Major Kusanagi
The first photo of Scarlett Johansson on the Wellington set of her new movie has been released.
Paramount Pictures released the shot of Johannson, playing Major Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell, to celebrate production on the film starting.
The single image, a head and shoulders profile of the actor staring out of what appears to be a rippling glass wall, doesn't show much except Johansson's hair style, an homage to the cartoon original.
Deadline called Johansson's look "stone cold killer".
Shot in New Zealand at Wellington's Stone Street Studios, the film is a live-action remake of the popular Japanese manga and anime that has already drawn fire for casting Johansson as a formerly Japanese character.
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Telling the story of a human-cyborg hybrid special agent called the Major, who works with a cyborg team taking down anti-cyborg extremists, Major questions what it means to be human - the Ghost in the cyborg shell - while trying to blend in with the normal inhabitants of Tokyo.
The anime has a huge cult following.
When Johansson was announced the role as Major Kusanagi, a Japanese woman, the studios were accused of whitewashing the film.
A fan-made petition to have Johansson replaced with an Asian actress received more than 15,000 signatures. However, according to Variety, Paramount and Dreamworks only took on the adaptation if Johansson was going to sign on.
The film's producers said they were pleased to be shooting Ghost in the Shell in Wellington. In a statement issued by Paramount Pictures, Avi Arad, Ari Arad, Michael Costigan and Jeffrey Silver said: "The city boasts state-of-the-art production facilities and a rich urban landscape that make it an ideal setting for a sci-fi action film.
"The crew-base in New Zealand working on the film is first class, and working with Sir Richard Taylor and the team at Weta Workshop is inspirational on every level. The people of New Zealand have been terrific partners in helping us bring this story and its beloved characters to audiences around the world and we are thankful for their continued hospitality."
Johansson is joined in New Zealand by co-stars Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire, The Dreamers) , Japanese legend Beat Takeshi (Outrage, Zatoichi) and Juliette Binoche (Chocolat, Three Colours: Blue).
Ghost in the Shell is scheduled to be released March 31, 2017.