Sony and Universal may have thought they had a decent shot at acquiring the feature rights for Ghost in the Shell, but they were shit-out-of-luck the minute Steven Spielberg barged in and said, “Mine.” Fret not, fellas. There’s always Pokemon.
“Ghost in the Shell is one of my favorite stories,” bellowed a nude and glistening Spielberg to the stunned Variety duo of Michael Fleming and Tatiana “Stubbs” Siegel. “It’s a genre that has arrived, and we enthusiastically welcome it at Dreamworks.” Though I liked Ghost in the Shell – and its sequel, Innocence (love Bato and his basset hound) – a helluva lot more than most of the anime I’ve been unfortunate enough to watch in my lifetime, I pity the poor soul tasked with simplifying its exceedingly convoluted story. Interestingly, Spielberg has hired a relative newcomer, Jamie Moss (one of three writers on Street Kings), to make Americanized sense of the futuristic (i.e. 2029) tale in which a team of undercover cyborgs attempts to track down a powerful hacker called “The Puppet Master”. If that sounds simple enough, you really need to watch the movie.
I’m not sure why Spielberg is all charged up over the cinematic arrival of this genre (which was prematurely delivered back in 1995 with Robert Longo’s major oopsie, Johnny Mnemonic), but I can definitely see how its diverting surface – most notably the sex-bomb main character of Major Motoko Kusanagi (a plum role for Scarlett Johansson) – could lure mainstream audiences into the kind of intellectually challenging science-fiction they typically skip. And when they blow fuses trying to make sense of the narrative, they’ll probably be off the genre for good (i.e. unless Will Smith and Akiva Goldsman are there to dumb it down for them)!
I’m kinda burying this aspect of the story because I don’t think it’s particularly interesting, but Spielberg intends to do Ghost in the Shell as a 3-D feature. Given the more-is-more mentality of tentpole filmmaking, this is hardly surprising. There just better be a basset hound in there somewhere.