Of all the Hollywood properties that spring to mind at the word ‘franchise’, it’s fair to say the exploits of Danny Ocean and co. wouldn’t be one of them. But, technically, with three full-length features put out between 2001 and 2007 (and the series in its entirety totalling four, if you include the 1960 Rat Pack original), ‘franchise’ is an appropriate term. Boasting a truly all-star cast, mostly male, headed by George Clooney, Brad Pitt and a then-adorably young Matt Damon, each film saw runaway success at the box office as audiences lapped up the gang’s increasingly extravagant criminal escapades. It was like America’s answer to the boyish, roguish charm of Michael Caine’s The Italian Job, an ethos that studios continue to try and replicate with enterprises like Now You See Me and its sequel.
Now, Warner Bros has officially announced a brand new spinoff to the adventures of Ocean and friends, Ocean’s Eight, one which instead boasts an all-female cast headlined by Oscar-winners Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway, with Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling and Rihanna also set to star (yet, curiously enough, no sign of Julia Roberts). Considering how embattled this year’s all-female-led remake of Ghostbusters was throughout its entire pre-release, and now reportedly headed for a loss of $75million in consequence, there’s little indication that this undertaking will be anything other than a similar uphill struggle. Within minutes of the announcement, detractors had taken to social media in protest, devising #FeministAFilm as their rallying cry. Whilst we can sympathise with a broader frustration as to Hollywood’s apparent vacuum of original material, and we echo the argument that women in both audiences and the industry deserve better than the re-gendered recycling of established all-male vehicles, we hope the haters are fewer in number this time around, and that everyone can keep an open mind.