Will Johansson still produce Rub & Tug? Image: Facebook
If reports are to be believed, the prospects of Rub & Tug being made appear bleak after Scarlett Johansson's recent withdrawal from the film because of strong objections to her playing a trans man.
According to The Wrap, a source with knowledge of the project said it is unclear if the movie will actually go into production.
The insider indicated the current situation does not look good for the movie, which still has director Rupert Sanders on board.
Johansson was also attached to the film as a producer through These Pictures. Currently, it is unclear whether Johansson and These Pictures will stay on to back the project.
Joel Silver's Silver Pictures is also listed as a production company on the film, but Silver did not respond to requests for comment.
Johansson, 33, dropped out of the role following a backlash from the LGBTQ community.
The actor exited the drama a little more than a week after her casting sparked backlash amid trans groups and activists.
"In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project. Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I've learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realise it was insensitive," Johansson told Out Magazine in a statement.
"I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues. According to GLAAD, LGBTQ+ characters dropped 40 per cent in 2017 from the previous year, with no representation of trans characters in any major studio release," she added.
In response to the controversy, the actor's representatives had earlier told Bustle, "Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment."
Johansson's statement alludes to performances by Tambor, Leto and Huffman, fellow cisgender actors who have played transgender characters on screen.
Rub & Tug is based on the life of Dante Tex Gill, a crime kingpin who used his massage parlour as a front for prostitution in the '70s and '80s. Gill lived his life as a trans man, which led many on social media to wonder why a trans actor was not tapped for the role.
Previously, Johansson had faced criticism in response to her casting as a Japanese human-cyborg in Ghost in the Shell, also directed by Sanders, which many fans perceived as whitewashing.
(With inputs from PTI)