Gods Of Egypt, the upcoming swords-and-sandals epic that also happens to have giant ridable snakes, looks like it’s going to be absolutely ridiculous. But one of the more absurd elements of the film isn’t even the way it reimagines ancient Egypt as a place where dudes transform into fireball-shooting flying birds. No, it’s the fact that the movie has mostly whitewashed its cast, making guys from Scotland and Denmark the heroes of a movie about people from the Middle East. But unlike the time-honored tradition of company men claiming all the Egyptians they know are white, Lionsgate is admitting it might not be the coolest move. Forbes reports the studio, along with director Alex Proyas, have released an official statement on the matter, and it’s surprisingly apologetic.
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.
Proyas’ statement is similarly straightforward. Even though he does the old “sorry if you were offended” maneuver, he also says, “The process of casting a movie has many complicated variables, but it is clear that our casting choices should have been more diverse.” Which is a more conciliatory tone than you often see in these kinds of statements. Clearly, everyone involved has realized that a movie about hundred-foot-long giant snakes should be hiring giant snakes from the country in question, and not some fancy-ass Beverly Hills snake.