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'Ocean's Eight' sneak peek: Are gender-flipping reboots helping to balance Hollywood?

Are remakes of popular movies with actresses in the lead a good thing, or is it just another way to possibly cash in on familiar titles?

'Ocean's Eight' stars Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, and Sarah Paulson.
Caption

Movie fans got a sneak peek into "Ocean's Eight" in a star-studded subway shot from the upcoming all-female reboot of the popular "Ocean's" heist films.

The film, the latest in a series inspired by the 1960 blockbuster "Ocean's Eleven" starring Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, has generated both excitement and skepticism as Hollywood tests out gender-flipping remakes as a means to expand the roles available to women in film by casting them in tried-and-true storylines.

“Ocean’s Eight” may remind movie fans of the 2016 “Ghostbusters” movie, which, like “Ocean’s,” took a box office hit and remade it with female characters. While some fans have embraced the idea of gender-based reboots for showing that women can carry action films as their male counterparts, others have criticized the tactic as too formulaic.

Prior to the release of the “Ghostbusters” reboot, starring Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon, Rolling Stone writer David Fear wrote:  “The pop-culture landscape that we live in, where every vintage recognizable property is destined for endless remakes/reboots/resurrections/regurgitations, has become a barren echo chamber. The only way we’re going to keep it from delving further into the realm of diminishing returns is some sense of variation, even if it’s still of the coloring-within-the-lines variety, and a gesture as small as recasting four traditionally male roles with more-than-worthy females does indeed add a welcome sense of frisson.” 

However, Radio Times writer Jessica Bateman wrote of movies including “Ghostbusters” and the new “Ocean’s,” “It’s true that women are massively under-represented in film … But this trend for rebooting old classics with male roles re-written for women is too much of an easy cop-out. It doesn’t address the deep-rooted problems behind how women are presented on our screens, and skips over the challenge of creating original, interesting characters and storylines that reflect the female experience.” 

The female “Ghostbusters” remake sparked a massive backlash, with a trailer for the movie becoming the most-disliked trailer on YouTube at the time. The movie was viewed as a financial letdown.

However, Vanity Fair writer Laura Bradley says those who expressed their displeasure with the “Ghostbusters” remake may not entirely be responsible for the disappointing box office. “A bloated budget, failure to secure a Chinese release, and sequel ennui also seem to have wreaked havoc on this ghostly romp,” she wrote. 

The story could be different for “Ocean’s” if international box office and interest in the property are more promising. It may be helpful that "Ocean's" is already a series. Some moviegoers attending "Ghostbusters" were disappointed to find that that the film was a remake rather than a sequel. The Sinatra-Martin classic "Ocean's Eleven" has already been remade with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon. But "Ocean's Twelve" and "Ocean's Thirteen" have carried have set the stage – and whet audiences' appetites – for successive variations on the theme.

Still, we don't know much about what to expect from Ocean's Eight, so critics and movie fans are latching onto photos like the one tweeted Monday by Rihanna, offering the first glimpse of the eight-women criminal team, played by Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, and Sarah Paulson.

"Ocean's Eight" is slated for a summer 2018 release.

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