Two weeks ago Lionsgate released the first trailer for Gods of Egypt. Nearly all of its actors looked nothing like Egyptians, leading to an online backlash for "whitewashing" the cast. Today the studio and director Alex Proyas apologized for not hiring more actors who look like they come from the culture the film depicts.
In a statement to Forbes, director Alex Proyas said he should have made a better effort to include more actors of color for a film set in north Africa. He added an apology "to those who are offended by the decisions we made."
Lionsgate echoed the apology, saying it understood the importance of reflecting "the diversity and culture of the time periods portrayed" in Gods of Egypt.
"In this instance we failed to live up to our own standards of sensitivity and diversity, for which we sincerely apologize," the statement reads. "Lionsgate is deeply committed to making films that reflect the diversity of our audiences. We have, can and will continue to do better."
It's not the first film set in that time or part of the world that has come under fire for its casting choices. Last year, Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings also faced criticisms of whitewashing when the film's actors looked more European than Egyptian.
Gods of Egypt stars Gerard Butler (who is Scottish) as Set, the Egyptian god of war who conquers the land. Rufus Sewell (English) portrays a lowly thief who teams up with Egypt's patron diety Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Danish) to free the people. The film premieres Feb. 26, 2016. The first trailer is below.