Gary Ross’ upcoming heist film Ocean’s 8 has a number of similarities to Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s trilogy, save for two key differences: This time around, the gang of expert thieves are all women, and they all seem to have their shit together. Mostly.
While Ocean’s 8 is not itself a genre film, director Gary Ross recently said that he wouldn’t necessarily have had the confidence to believe in the project were it not for The Hunger Games, another movie with a female lead he directed back in 2012. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ross described how, despite the original novel’s gargantuan success, people initially insisted to him that doing the Hunger Games film was a huge mistake—specifically because it featured a woman in a lead role:
“When I did Hunger Games I had so many people warn me that it could never be successful, not because of the violence or anything like that but that no one would ever go to a movie with this kind of female protagonist. I disagreed. I loved making that movie for that reason. I loved seeing Jennifer in that role and seeing her be empowered in that way and seeing boys and girls respond to it equally.”
The Hunger Games’ massive success sent a signal both to Ross as a director and to Hollywood as an industry: people can and will and want to spend money on big-budget franchises starring women. The only reason they don’t is that the opportunities are so seldom available, and every time a female-led property is a hit, there’s a round of takes wondering what, if anything, has “changed” about the situation.
The fact of the matter is that the industry—across all genres—has always had issues with thoughtful representations of characters who aren’t straight white men, and people have come to assume that that’s just the way things have to be. But it isn’t. The Hunger Games proved this, Ocean’s 8 will likely continue in the trend, and hopefully, we can finally start letting go of the idea that men are the only people who can be the faces of massively popular franchises.
Ocean’s 8, which stars... everyone... had its first trailer debut today and will be in theaters June 8th, 2018.