How Ocean’s 8 Balanced Its Cultural Significance With The Franchise's Tone

Cate Blanchett and Rihanna in Ocean's 8

In the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy and #MeToo movement, special attention is being paid to the way the entertainment world functions. The calls for proper diversity and onscreen representation has been at the forefront, with positive steps being made forward with blockbusters like Black Panther. Gary Ross' Oceans 8 has also been associated with this change, as it features a diverse cast of women as the starring cast. The casting is what has dominated much of the buzz around Ocean's 8, especially in the current political climate. I recently spoke to Gary Ross himself, and asked how he managed to balance the importance of an all-female Oceans' movie, while also making sure it felt true to the franchise. As he told me,

I was aware of those things, but at the same time there needs to be a buoyancy to this film all the way through because it's a celebration. It's a celebration of the commonality that these women have, but it's also a celebration of their differences. It's a celebration of what they have in common, and it's a celebration of what sets them apart. And hopefully, if we did our job right, it's a celebration of eight distinct women who aren't the same and aren't generic. If we succeeded in that, that's the thing I'm most proud of.

It looks like everyone involved in Ocean's 8 was aware of what a significant moment in film history this was. And while Gary Ross definitely tried to feature each character and what makes them unique, in the end it's still an Ocean's movie. Therefore, things had to be kept light and quick paced, despite the urge to pause the action and spotlight a cultural shift.

The conversation around having more complex female characters is about just that: wanting to be represented onscreen in a more honest way. Ocean's 8 features a motley crew of characters who each bring something unique to the table. While Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett's characters help plan the heist, they need Rihanna's tech, Sarah Paulson's organization, and Awkwafina's pick pocketing skills in order to make it all work. If Gary Ross manages to craft a true Ocean's movie that celebrates its cast of women, then he'll have done his job. Of course, we'll just have to wait and see what the public thinks about Ocean's 8.

While the all-female Ghostbusters received a ton of hate, Ocean's 8 hasn't been met with the same backlash. This may be because the franchise has already rebooted itself once before, or simply because the cast is so stacked. It'll ultimately be up to theatergoers to decide if the film makes money and has any hope of getting a sequel.

Ocean's 8 hits theaters June 8th. In the meantime, check out our 2018 release list to plan your next trip to the movies, and our Ocean's 8 review to know what to expect.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.