This weekend’s biggest wide release will be the $70 Million all-female heist caper Ocean’s 8 from Warner Bros. Projections for the film are ranging from the low-to-mid $30 Millions to north of $40 Million, according to Deadline. The studio itself is being conservative and sticking with the lower range of those expectations. They seem to feel confident that the film will act as a solid piece of counter-programming to all of the high-octane blockbusters currently flooding the market, like holdovers Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and this weekend’s other big-ish release, Hotel Artemis.
But there’s something that feels a little overly-optimistic about these projections if you ask me.
Ocean’s 8 is a unique animal, in that it’s kind of a sequel, kind of a remake, and kind of a reboot to Steven Soderbergh Ocean’s 11 trilogy. Those films, which came out at a time when having huge stars still had a strong impact on your box office returns- an idea that’s lost a lot of steam in the last 10 years- were headlined by George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, and several other well-known stars. And they also had a built-in appeal that crossed over to older generations because of the folks who remembered the original Rat Pack-led Ocean’s 11 from 1960.
The biggest hurdle I see here is that the film wants to piggyback itself onto the success of those previous Soderbergh films, which all opened between $36M and $39M when they came out between 2001 and 2007, without putting any of that trilogy’s stars on the marquee. When you consider that, then add in the fact that the main trailer for the film reveals a plot that closely mimics Ocean’s 11 while also implying it’s a sequel and not a remake, and you have the potential for another Ghostbusters 2016 on your hands.
While many like to point to the gender angle when discussing the disappointment that was that Ghostbusters remake, I’ve always been a firm believer that it had less to do with the film being an “all-female reboot” and almost everything to do with the fact that people didn’t know what to make of the movie based on its marketing, followed by a movie that was sadly safe and bland. The trailers were confusing. They referenced the original Ghostbusters directly with text on the screen, they emphasized a similar plot line, they brought in the classic theme song from the original, and even the same logo, yet it was ground-up reboot that erased the existing canon. So it felt like the marketing department at Sony had no idea how to sell that film.
In the case of Ocean’s 8, I’ve compared it to past pseudo-sequels that opted to not bring back their original stars. In particular, I’ve said that the film and its setting reminds me of the three attempts to make Jim Carrey sequels without Jim Carrey. I’m talking about Son of Mask, Dumb and Dumberer, and Ace Ventura Jr. You’re using the same name and basic premise, but you’re not giving fans of the original the actual stars that hooked them in to begin with. Those films all tanked.
That’s why I’ve always argued that this film would’ve been better off ditching the Ocean’s moniker and just being its own thing. I think this would have a ton more heat around it if it was an original property that, perhaps, reminded people of the Ocean’s movies, without trying to attach itself directly to them. It’s got a killer cast and a solid director, so that should’ve been enough if the premise was intriguing enough. As it stands, merely mentioning that Sandra Bullock’s character is the sister of George Clooney’s Danny Ocean, who also happens to be a brilliant criminal mastermind who just got out of prison and is putting together a crew for an impossible heist, just feels lazy.
The only thing working in this film’s favor is its modest budget. $70 Million is pretty cheap for a film like this, and almost guarantees they’ll turn a profit, assuming audiences take to it. It can make back its budget within two or three weeks if it has a solid start, and it needs a solid start because next week will mark the arrival of The Incredibles 2, and the week after will bring us Jurassic World.
As it stands, I don’t see how Ocean’s 8 will open in the same range as the Clooney-Pitt-Roberts movies with the marketing its had and the tepid buzz around it. If I had to project a number, totally unscientifically, I’d say it lands somewhere around $25 Million. But we’ll see.
Regardless, I don’t think there’s any way this thing sails north of $40 Million.
Keep an eye on Revenge of The Fans, though, if this film interests you. I sent contributor and The Revengers Podcast co-host Vanessa Bontea to check out the film last night and she’ll be publishing her review later today. I know she was majorly excited about this movie, so I’m looking forward to seeing if it lived up for her.
In the meantime, what do you think of the box office prospects for Ocean’s 8? Do you think it’ll fare as well as industry types seem to think? Think it’ll fare even better? Let me know. Because I’d love to see this succeed, but I just can’t see it soaring to the types of heights it could’ve reached if it had just been its own thing.