Starring a lot of white people, “Gods of Egypt” faces mounting criticism for its lack of a diverse cast prompting the film’s studio Lionsgate and its director to issue a public apology.
Following the release of the “Gods of Egypt” trailer, feedback was critical of the film’s casting which placed well known caucasian actors in the lead roles for characters of Egyptian origin. Leading roles went to Swedish, English, Australian and French actors instead of actors of African decent.
The film’s director Alex Proyas issued a public statement following the backlash and admitted that:
“The casting choices should have been more diverse. I sincerely apologize to those who are offended by the decisions we made.”
With diversity becoming an increasingly important topic of debate for a film’s casting a host of movies have been criticized for their lack of diversity in the past year. Recently even Taylor Swift’s latest music video set in South Africa was accused of being a “white colonialist” period drama. Adam Sandler also got into trouble over the lack of sensitivity in the script for Native Americans being allegedly humiliated in his latest comedy picture.
In response to the internet backlash over “Gods of Egypt” Lionsgate stated:
“We failed to live up to our own standards of sensitivity and diversity, for which we sincerely apologize.”
Despite the controversial casting, film studios find it more challenging to secure finance for pictures that have unknown actors in them. Investors are looking for bankable stars with international fan bases making it difficult for films, even at the high budget range to change their casting approach. George Lucas back in 2012 explained how no one would finance “Red Tails” with an all-black cast and that distributors didn’t know how to market his film in foreign markets. The Star Wars creator recently gave $10m to USC to provide scholarships for African-American and Latino students.
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The problem facing Lionsgate and all the studios is that audiences are becoming increasingly sensitive about casting diversity yet the distributors and the financiers don’t want to invest in pictures that are deemed too risky. With a slate of recent Box Office flops it is becoming harder to finance big budget pictures while VOD platforms have room to innovate at the lower budget range with more diversity as they already self-distribute.
Despite “Gods of Egypt” missing the mark on diversity, film studios are creating more jobs behind and in front of the camera to ensure a more inclusive workforce. Of course there is more work to be done.
You can check out the latest diversity roles in the film industry on our job platform from film studios and production companies.