In a somewhat unprecedented move, the makers of a major studio blockbuster-in-waiting have made an unreserved public apology for their film before it has even hit cinemas.
‘Gods of Egypt,’ the upcoming fantasy adventure from studio Lionsgate and director Alex Proyas, is based around characters from ancient Egyptian mythology - the bulk of whom are played by white actors such as Gerard Butler and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
When the first images and trailer (below) from ‘Gods of Egypt’ came online earlier this month, they prompted an outcry so great that the studio and director have been compelled to apologise.
In a public statement first published at Forbes, Proyas (director of ‘The Crow’ and ‘I, Robot’) says, “The process of casting a movie has many complicated variables, but it is clear that our casting choices should have been more diverse.
“I sincerely apologize to those who are offended by the decisions we made.”
The official statement from Lionsgate themselves reads, ”We recognize that it is our responsibility to help ensure that casting decisions reflect the diversity and culture of the time periods portrayed.
“In this instance we failed to live up to our own standards of sensitivity and diversity, for which we sincerely apologize.
“Lionsgate is deeply committed to making films that reflect the diversity of our audiences. We have, can and will continue to do better.”
Historical fantasy films casting white actors in racially diverse roles is of course nothing new (’Clash of the Titans,’ ‘Prince of Persia,’ Gerard Butler’s earlier film ‘300,’ any number of ‘Sinbad’ or ‘Zorro’ movies - the list goes on), but attitudes on the matter would seem to be changing.
Still, as Forbes note, Lionsgate have also been responsible for Paul Haggis’ ‘Crash,’ Marc Forster’s ‘Monster’s Ball,’ the films of Tyler Perry, and Netflix series ‘Orange is the New Black,’ all of which suggest a clear awareness of racial and sexual diversity.
‘Gods of Egypt’ is also hardly the first film to come under fire for ‘whitewashing’ of late, with Warner Bros’ ‘Pan’ having been widely criticised for casting Rooney Mara as Native American Princess Tiger Lilly, and Cameron Crowe’s ‘Aloha’ earning similar disdain for casting Emma Stone as an Asian-American.
Ridley Scott’s ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ attracted particular scorn in 2014 for casting Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton as Moses and Ramses, and many were not impressed when Scott bluntly declared to Variety, “I can’t mount a film of this budget… and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such.”
‘Gods of Egypt’ hits cinemas on 26 February 2016.
Picture Credit: Lionsgate, Warner Bros