This film's production was met with controversy over the choice to cast the lead role of Major Motoko Kusanagi (a Japanese character in the original source material and previous adaptations) as white, with the role going to Scarlett Johansson. Online protests over Hollywood whitewashing flared up in April 2016 when Paramount Pictures released the first promotional image of Johansson in costume. The anger toward her casting was exacerbated by reports that Lola VFX, the company behind the character-aging effects in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), was commissioned to manage tests on visual effects to make white actors look Asian, though the results were reportedly rejected immediately upon their review.
The film's villain was originally intended to be the Laughing Man, the antagonist hacker of the first season of "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex" (2002), but has been changed to the second season's antagonist, Hideo Kuze, to help make the story more personal for the Major, as they both had a past together on the series.
This is the first film since A Thousand Words (2012) to be released by Dreamworks Pictures and Paramount Pictures. No word if Touchstone Pictures would co-finance with the two studios since the contract with Dreamworks is set to expire in 2016.
The third science fiction film which Scarlett Johansson has black hair. The first science fiction film was Under the Skin (2013). However in Lucy (2014), Johansson's character Lucy Miller wears a black wig as a disguise.