Ocean’s Eight: Can Franchise Bounce Back With Change In Direction?

When the fourth installment of a franchise is reached, it seems fair to say that the writers and the production team (let alone the cast) are going to have their work cut out when it comes to making the film a true classic. Putting the spotlight on the Ocean’s franchise’s film teams, it seems clear that they have their hands full when it comes to 2018’s Ocean’s Eight. Not only do they have to work with the knowledge that the first two sequels to the original film not only failed to match the heights of Ocean’s Eleven in terms of quality, but also fell way short of the worldwide revenue it brought in (2007’s Ocean’s Thirteen earned $311 million as a worldwide revenue total, which fell well short of the worldwide box office revenue that Ocean’s Eleven brought in), but also with the fact that critical preconceptions are likely to be frosty from the start.

Truth be told, from our own perspective, we’re not that hopeful about the movie, as you might be able to tell from reading this, as well as our take on the previous Ocean’s outing. That said, the fact remains that by introducing an all-female cast, the movie is at least taking a markedly different approach to the characters and interactions that took place in the previous movies.

Can the Suave Anti-hero Be Replaced?
Of course, one of the main draws of the Ocean’s films in the past has been the charm and pull of George Clooney as Danny Ocean, who managed to show us that a villain can be a great character without having to kill, or even overly offend people! With the likes of Sandra Bullock, Rihanna, and Cate Blanchett all appearing in Ocean’s Eight, someone will need to step into the shoes of 56-year-old Mr. Clooney.

There are other changes afoot as well. The movie itself is going to be set in the Met Gala, rather than the traditional casino of the Ocean’s movies, suggesting that the movie could be looking to put style at the forefront, rather than the more traditional grittier approach of the casino. This should mean that the characters are able to express themselves in a way that helps to move the storyline along, rather than just relying on dazzling big-action effects to perform this function. The risk here, though, is that the movies are so synonymous with the world of casinos that it is the gambling factor that draws audiences in. Can the likes of Gucci, Versace and Louis Vuitton really replace the glitz and glamor of casino culture that has had such a big influence in mainstream society and on the big screen, previously defining the style of the movies and having an impact upon the way characters interacted?

Is More Attention Being Paid to the Stars or the Script?

While no one is going to be unhappy to see such a great line-up of strong female leads in this film, with cast members like Mindy Kaling (who wrote some of the best The Office episodes, including 2009’s Niagara) hopefully really exciting additions to the cast, there have to be question marks over the fact that there are so many big names in the film and how they will work together.

Of course, there is nothing to say that this amalgamation of star quality can’t work, with Pepsi having previously had great success back in 2004 with their We Will Rock You advert (which brought together Beyonce, Pink, Britney Spears and even some of the members of Queen). Clearly, bringing together big names in a well-constructed manner can bring brand success. However, movies are far more complex beasts than adverts, and moviegoers want to get attached to specific characters in a movie, which means that the script, the dialogue and the screen time of specific actors all needs to be appropriate and spot on. Should the Ocean’s Eight movie fail to find this balance, we could end up with a flop like the recent Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which despite having access to big names and a good history to build upon was critically panned (although it still made over $800 million at the box office), rather than a movie like the more successful Love Actually.

A Watershed for the Sequel?
While the movie will flop or not depending upon the dollars it brings in, the fact that the movie is going in such a radically different direction is perhaps a watershed moment for sequel movies and could help to inspire better movie sequels in the future should it manage to show that not sticking to the tried and tested works. By going in a slightly different direction, movie sequels can be brilliant in their own right, as Blade Runner 2049 has shown us recently to great effect.

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