Entertainment & Arts

Film-makers apologise for white cast

Alex Proyas Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Gods of Egypt director Alex Proyas was born in Egypt to Greek parents. His films include I. Robot and The Crow.

Selma director Ava DuVernay has welcomed an apology by film-makers accused of "whitewashing" forthcoming adventure movie Gods of Egypt.

Earlier this month, a series of character posters and the film's trailer provoked uproar on social media for their predominantly white cast.

Last week both the film's director, Alex Proyas, and studio, Lionsgate, apologised for the offence.

Proyas said it was clear "casting choices should have been more diverse".

The action movie - due to be released early next year - sees white actors such as Gerard Butler, Rufus Sewell and Geoffrey Rush take centre stage in a film about warring Egyptian gods.

The publicity material prompted actress Bette Midler to tweet: "Movie, #GodsOfEgypt in which everyone is white? Egyptians, in history and today, have NEVER been white. BRING BACK GEOGRAPHY!! It's Africa!"

'Failure'

"We recognise that it is our responsibility to help ensure that casting decisions reflect the diversity and culture of the time periods portrayed," wrote Lionsgate in an official statement, released on Friday.

"In this instance we failed to live up to our own standards of sensitivity and diversity, for which we sincerely apologise.

"Lionsgate is deeply committed to making films that reflect the diversity of our audiences. We have, can and will continue to do better.​​"

A statement released by I, Robot director Proyas read: "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 apologise to those who are offended by the decisions we made."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ava DuVernay's civil rights drama Selma was nominated for best picture at the 2015 Oscars

DuVernay, who became the first black female director to receive a Golden Globe nomination for the civil rights movie Selma in 2014, applauded the film-makers' honesty.

"This kind of apology never happens - for something that happens all the time. An unusual occurrence worth noting," she tweeted.

"GODS OF EGYPT makes me value [JJ] Abrams' STAR WARS choices more. Makes me cheer more for [Ryan] Coogler's CREED. We all deserve icons in our own image," she added, in a further tweet.

The criticism follows similar complaints about Ridley Scott's 2014 movie Exodus: Gods and Kings, which saw Christian Bale cast as Moses - and more recently, Joe Wright's casting of Rooney Mara as Tiger Lilly in Pan.

Gods of Egypt has a reported budget of $140m (£92m). It is scheduled for release on 26 February.

More on this story