'Ocean's Eight' stars: Is all-female cast Hollywood's new take on the reboot?

Actresses including Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, and Mindy Kaling may appear in a new version of the 'Ocean's Eleven' films. 

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/File
Sandra Bullock is set to star in a new take on the 'Ocean's Eleven' series.

Several more stars may be joining the cast of “Ocean’s Eight,” a new take on the “Ocean’s Eleven” story that will feature female stars. 

In addition to actress Sandra Bullock, who had already joined the project, actresses such as Cate Blanchett, Awkwafina, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, Anne Hathaway, and Rihanna are reportedly near deals to appear in the film.

That is of course seven people, so presumably another actress may join later. 

Frank Sinatra first starred in a 1960 movie about a group of men trying to steal from various casinos in Las Vegas, and a remake starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Julia Roberts that was released in 2001 became a hit and spawned two sequels. 

The "reboot" has proven popular in Hollywood over the last several years, with projects such as last summer's "Vacation" (the newest "National Lampoon" film) and "Terminator Genisys" as well as this summer's "The Legend of Tarzan" all attempting to create new stories from old films.

This “Ocean’s Eight” plan also echoes that of this summer’s “Ghostbusters” movie, which like “Ocean” is based on a pre-existing story but features a female cast rather than male characters. 

Are these plans good or bad for actresses?

Discussion continues over female-led blockbuster projects, in the context of the announcement a few months ago that the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are looking into the lack of women directors in Hollywood.

Some have praised the way these projects portray their female characters, with Erin Ramsey writing for Medium, “[Kate McKinnon’s character in ‘Ghostbusters’] isn’t a princess. She isn’t a prop. She isn’t a love interest. She is the main character, in a movie with no other ‘greater’ male main characters. She’s being … [an] action hero, saving the day not for the happy ending kiss, but for herself and her friends and the world … She is not wearing sexy makeup and she does not even have long hair that blows in the wind, still curled, after she defeats the bad guys. Kate McKinnon’s character saves the world in a dirty, baggy MTA jumpsuit.” 

And Indiewire writer Jessica Kiang points out that these projects mean more women onscreen. “On one level, and perhaps it’s the only level that really matters, this is heartening, and anything that increases the number of women in diverse, complex and interesting roles in Hollywood movies … must surely be a good thing,” she writes. 

Ms. Kiang believes that sometimes, having the project be a new version of an existing story may lower the quality of the film, however. “For those of us who prefer new and original to tried and tested, news of a female spin on an existing franchise comes pre-tarnished,” she writes. Overall, “while we’re overall happy that the gender-swap trend is occurring, it’s a phenomenon that we have to hope and trust is only temporary: a necessary phase to get us over the hump, but one that, in its faint ridiculousness, will hopefully encourage more female-centric screenwriting to happen in the first place.  That, surely, is the endgame: a scenario in which this … is no longer necessary because the female roles are already there and waiting.” 

Alyssa Rosenberg of the Washington Post also has concerns, with Ms. Rosenberg also bringing into the discussion films like Ms. Bullock's "Our Brand Is Crisis" where the role was first written for a male actor and an actress later came on board. “The news about a gender-swapped 'Ocean’s Eleven' is the kind of thing that sounds like a step toward equality, but is rooted in an idea about women and storytelling that actually risks shutting out women’s voices and perspectives in the long run," she writes.

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