'Gods Of Egypt' Whitewashing: Will This Controversial Casting Hurt Box Office On Opening Weekend?

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If you've seen any of the advertising for Gods Of Egypt, the new epic action movie coming out this weekend, you may have noticed something a bit off: the cast doesn't exactly sync up with the title. To put it more bluntly, the actors in this movie are almost uniformly white, despite the fact that the film centers around the interaction between Egyptians and their gods. This issue has gotten more attention than the movie itself, despite an all-star cast and some truly spectacular special effects. So as opening weekend rolls around, we take a look at the whitewashing of Gods Of Egypt, and what that means for its box-office potential.

Casting Controversy

From day one, people had serious problems with the cast of Gods of Egypt: Gerard Butler and Geoffrey Rush are major talents and wonderful performers, but they are decidedly not Egyptian. In fact, none of the main cast is: of the mortal characters in the film, two are Australian and the third is English. With an overwhelmingly monochromatic look to its actors, it's unsurprising that people called it out for whitewashing. The fact that it's opening weekend coincides with an Oscar ceremony hampered by #OscarsSoWhite--well, that's just bad luck.

All Apologies

Director Alex Proyas is better known for his smaller cult hits like Dark City and the iconic The Crow. When called to task for the casting choices he made on this big budget endeavor, the director at first profusely apologized. Even before the film's release, Proyas admitted that the casting for his film had not been correct. Lionsgate Studios echoed the director, apologizing for the insensitive and inaccurate casting. For both the studio and the director to apologize for a film isn't exactly a good sign.

Bad Beginnings

Rumor has it that Lionsgate wanted Gods of Egypt to be the first part of a major franchise. However, early reports from overseas markets and lackluster-at-best reviews are making this possibility seem increasingly remote. Many are already trying to suss out exactly why the movie hasn't lived up to its $140 million price tag: was it lackluster performances? Bad advertising campaign? Or did the unpleasant controversy (and hashtags like #EgyptSoWhite) doom the film before it had a chance? 

Whatever the reason (and despite what seems to be some gloriously gonzo visual effects), it doesn't look like the studio will be making bank on this film. With a current Rotten Tomato score of just 20%, Gods of Egypt may not conclusively prove that whitewashing your film will hurt it--but it certainly won't help it, either. And considering Star Wars broke pretty much every box office record ever with a black lead (even though the box office is regularly cited as the reason studios opt for whitewashing their casts), maybe it's time for Hollywood to rethink its mentality on race. 

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