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‘Movie is a comedy … stylish and spirited’
NEW YORK, June 9, (RTRS): For some, the female heist caper “Ocean’s 8” is a strike at the heart of maledominated Hollywood. For others, it’s pure summer escapism, and for a (mostly male) minority it’s the worst idea ever. The “Ocean’s 8” cast of Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson and rising star Awkwafina have four Oscars, two Emmys, nine Grammys and five Golden Globes between them. Their spin-off version of the 2001 “Ocean’s Eleven” franchise starring George Clooney has raised the stakes for women seeking to reverse power dynamics in Hollywood.
The Warner Bros. movie, opening in US theaters on Friday, tells of Debbie Ocean (Bullock), who upon her release from prison puts together a team of female crooks to steal a $150 million necklace during New York City’s annual Met Gala. The film was conceived long before scores of sexual misconduct allegations against directors, filmmakers and actors roiled Hollywood and spurred a long-standing campaign for better paid and more visible roles for women. “Warner Brothers made this movie before the whole movement,” Bullock said. “It wasn’t so much eight women, but they said this is a franchise that can keep going. What’s a fresh way of looking at the franchise? It’s with the ladies.”
The movie is expected to take a healthy $30-$40 million on its opening weekend in North America, according to box office analysts, despite mixed reviews and a social media backlash. Trailers were met with derisory comments. “How to ruin a classic franchise,” wrote a user called Handsome Stalker on YouTube. “The feminists are taking over,” said user Jamie Vardy Vulture film critic Emily Yoshidi said that although the movie was seen as “symbolic balm for all the ills of a male-dominated Hollywood,” the finished version “doesn’t feel like much more than a thrown bone.”
Variety’s Owen Gleiberman, by contrast, called it “a gender-flipped sequel that not only works just fine, but renders the whole novelty of the concept a borderline irrelevance.” Hathaway said she hopes gender politics will not distract audiences. “The fact that eight women are starring together in a movie feels very big – because it is – and powerful and in some ways political. But the movie is a comedy… And it’s stylish and spirited,” she said. Working with an all-female cast certainly made an impact on the seasoned actresses.
Kaling called the experience “surprising.” Paulson described it as “fun” and Hathaway said it was “about time.” “Ocean’s 8” is dominating domestic moviegoing as the heist comedy heads for a solid opening weekend of about $44 million at 4,145 sites, early estimates showed on Friday. Warner Bros’ gender-swapped reboot of the “Ocean’s” franchise was performing above forecasts as it grabbed an impressive $4 million from Thursday night previews, part of a Friday total of about $17 million. Recent predictions had placed “Ocean’s 8” between $33 million and $40 million.
A24’s horror movie “Hereditary” also came in above predictions with a $14 million launch — leaving it in a battle for second with the third weekend of “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and the fourth frame of “Deadpool 2.” Global Road’s dystopian crime-thriller “Hotel Artemis” was showing little traction with a debut in the $3 million range at 2,047 venues. Gary Ross directs from a script he wrote with Olivia Milch. Steven Soderbergh, who helmed the three previous “Ocean’s” movies, produces with Susan Elkins. The film, which carries a $70 million price tag, have earned mostly positive reviews, racking up a 68% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Should estimates hold, “Ocean’s 8” will finish with the best opening among the five films in the franchise, starting with the original “Ocean’s 11” in 1960, followed by the remake “Ocean’s Eleven” in 2001, “Ocean’s Twelve” in 2004, and “Ocean’s Thirteen” in 2007 — all with Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, and Don Cheadle. Each bowed between $36 million and $39 million in their domestic openings. In total, the trilogy collected over $1.2 billion worldwide. The third weekend of Disney’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and the fourth frame of Fox’s “Deadpool” are set to battle for second with “Hereditary,” with “Solo” pegged for about $13.5 million and “Deadpool” at around $13 million. “Solo” has taken in $158 million in its first 13 days domestically and “Deadpool 2” has totaled $262.8 million in 20 days.
LOS ANGELES: At Tuesday’s premiere of “Ocean’s 8,” Sandra Bullock addressed backlash surrounding 2016’s “Ghostbusters,” another high-profile all-female reboot starring Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones. “That was unfair on a level that I can’t even not be mad about talking about,” Bullock told Variety on the red carpet. “They literally walked into a firing squad.”
Following the revival of the ghostly classic, many took to social media to criticize the decision to cast all female actors to replace original male cast members like Dan Akroyd and Bill Murray. But Bullock was quick to defend “Saturday Night Live’s” female class. “You had five of the most gifted comedian actresses on the planet — I’m just gonna leave it at that,” Bullock said. “And it doesn’t just take five people to make a movie. It takes about 300, so, you know what? Let’s back off the meanness. Let’s have a year of kindness. The women are here — we’re not going anywhere. But this isn’t about just women. We like sitting at the table with men. We just want to be invited to their table as well because we like them at our table.”
Sony’s “Ghostbusters” reboot was directed by Paul Feig, who worked with Bullock and McCarthy on the 2013 hit “The Heat.” Awkwafina, Bullock’s “Ocean’s 8” co-star, also weighed in with hopes that naysayers take the time to watch “Ocean’s 8” before posting negative comments on the internet. “My advice for those people is just watch the movie first and then go on Reddit,” she said. “It’s as simple as that. Watch it first.” After the all-female casting announcement for “Ghostbusters” came out, Kristen Wiig said those critical of the gender-reversal “really bummed me out,” while Feig called their comments “some of the most vile, misogynistic s— I’ve ever seen in my life.”