Upcoming film Gods of Egypt has been wrought with controversy ever since casting was first announced in 2014.

And now, director Alex Proyas has apologized.

“The process of casting a movie has many variables, but it is clear that our casting choices should have been more diverse. I sincerely apologize to those who are offended by the decisions we made,” said Proyas, who has directed Dark City and I, Robot.

The film stars Scotsman Gerard Butler and Danish actor Nikolai Coster-Waldau, playing gods Set and Horus, respectively.


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Whitewashing is a long-time practice in Hollywood of casting white people to play ethnic roles, causing controversy among those who want to see more diverse films.

Director Cameron Crowe apologized for casting white actress Emma Stone as a Hawaiian woman who is a quarter Chinese in the film AlohaRooney Mara attempted to play Native American Tiger Lily in Pan, which also met wide-spread derision.

This isn’t even the first film about ancient Egypt to attract criticism for whitewashing. Ridley Scott’s epic Exodus: Gods and Kings was criticized for casting Christian Bale as Moses and Australian actor Joel Edgerton as King Ramses. Scott defended the casting as a way to secure funding for the $140 million project.

There’s another similarity between all three of these movies: they did not do well at the box office or with critics. Pan and Aloha didn’t even make back their budgets, and Exodus: Gods and Kings struggled badly as well. All three were not particularly good movies by critical standards, and all three were mocked for their whitewashing.

Give the filmmakers this: they at least apologized before the movie came out, unlike others. But it still shows a startling and troubling lack of foresight in their casting to cast white actors as ancient Egyptians, and their weak apology does not give hope that the process of whitewashing is going away any time soon. However, increased criticism and protests by filmmakers and critics is encouraging.

When Gods of Egypt comes out Feb. 26, 2016, moviegoers will vote with their wallets.

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