It might take a few months—or maybe even a few years—but eventually, Scarlett Johansson’s Ghost in the Shell will have an afterlife. The live-action adaptation of the Japanese classic is a complete cyberbore, narrative-wise, but for those who gush over big-screen artistry, there’s plenty to get lost in: the opulent, expansive CGI visuals; the gorgeous Clint Mansell/Lorne Balfe score, pulsing and plinking like a Tangerine Dream nightmare; even Johansson’s stoically acrobatic performance, which proves once again why she’s one of the most in-demand action-film stars in the world. It’s one of those films destined to be salvaged by the web, where the movie’s defenders will advocate for it via frame-grab sprees or the occasional subreddit threads. Ghost will find its followers.
In the here-and-now, though, Ghost in the Shell is an all-encompassing embarrassment, the kind of movie you might not want to admit you watched—and which, judging from the box office, not a lot of people bothered to see in the first place. The film earned just $19 million domestically in its opening weekend, coming in third behind the still-running Beauty and the Beast and the surprise smash Oh Look, Alec Baldwin Is a Talking Baby, I Guess That’s Cute to Some People? That crash came despite the fact that the latest version of Ghost—which is based on the long-running manga and anime series—was gifted with an estimated $110 million budget, a major star, a teen-baiting PG-13 rating, and a nearly 3,500-screen opening weekend. In what’s been a notably healthy box-office year, Ghost should have shellacked the competition.