Ocean’s 8: the most dangerous film of the year

Summary: Ocean’s 8 is a great chick flick, but might induce life-threatening boredom in guys. This review has spoilers galore, because I watched this film so you do not have to.

Poster for "Oceans 8"

Cigarettes have labels warning that their nicotine thrills come at a high price. Especially exciting roller coasters have signs warning that people with poor hearts should not ride them. Theaters showing Ocean’s 8 should have signs warning men that watching this might result in death by boredom. It consists largely of scenes showing women looking at screens, clicking on mouses, and walking around. The plot advances at a glacial pace. Plus lots of gal-chatter.

“Lipstick, what do you think {of it}?”

“Barbie. In a good way.”

Heist films often have mostly boring preparatory action scenes, and rely on the charisma of the actors and the wit of the writers to make them work. The writers failed miserably. The plot rolls predictably along, without suspense or surprise. The caper is a paint-by-the-numbers affair.

The actresses are first-rate, including Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, and Awkwafina. But they are given little to do. The characters meet only minor obstacles and so remain placid throughout. They have neither chemistry nor human interest. Unlike the 1960 original (see below), their interactions are uninteresting. The film’s emotional arcs are flat. Sandra Bullock retains the same expression, her trademark smirk, throughout most of the film. They rest look uninterested.

Like so many other films these days, the film-makers attempt to have grrl-power carry the plot. The girls are stalwart and loyal — and all but one are single. For good reason. Most are combinations of weird and hard.

Women crooks at home in "Oceans 8."
Women crooks at home in Ocean’s 8.

The one major guy in the plot is a weasel, and not very bright (his stupidity carries the plot at a key point). Sandra Bullock threatens him, and he bows before her righteous anger (as guys always do in modern films, since it is wrong to hit girls who attack you).

Like so many other films these days, it demonstrates the value of Game. Sandra Bullock goes for bad boys. She explains a core game tactic: Women are excited by indifference to them (e.g., avoid eye contact) – it is an aphrodisiac to them.

Like so many films these days, it is amoral. Spoiler: the gals get away with the loot. Films in the America-that-once-was encouraged people to act better, even to be better. Now films like Ocean’s 8 encourage people to be parasites. Here is the big inspirational speech given by the caper’s leader, Sandra Bullock. Both dumb and bad for America.

“You are  not doing this for me. You are not doing this for yourself. Somewhere out there there is an eight-year old girl lying in bed, dreaming of being a criminal. Let’s do this for her.”

Whose fault is this mess?

It is an all woman ensemble. One of the two writers is a woman. Therefore there is only one logical person to blame, as Emily Yoshida explains at New York Magazine’s Vulture.

“I left Ocean’s 8 more convinced than ever that no amount of fierce, fantastic female ensembles can overcome the mediocrity of a dull male director.”

"Oceans 11" (1960) poster
Available at Amazon.

Ticket sales in the Ocean’s franchise

Box Office Mojo has the global box office sales for each of the Ocean’s films. They also show average US ticket prices by year, so we can roughly adjust for inflation.

Ocean’s Eleven (2001) :  $450,717,150 – $730 million in our prices.

Ocean’s Twelve (2004):  $362,744,280 – $535 million today.

Ocean’s Thirteen (2007): $311,312,624 – $414 million today.

Ocean’s 8 as of June 29 (22 days): $204,082,181.

See the original, better version

I recommend watching the 1960 original that spawned this series: Ocean’s 11. The core actors are five of the “rat pack“: Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Joey Bishop. Plus Angie Dickinson and Patrice Wymore.

Bosley Crowther of the NYT wrote an ambivalent review. He was bothered that “A surprisingly nonchalant and flippant attitude toward crime – an attitude so amoral it roadblocks a lot of valid gags. But he finds that film is “genuinely amusing – very funny in spots – the dialog is cleverly written and the roles are deftly and colorfully played.”

The plot is gripping, with a great twist at the ending. This was made during the reign of the Motion Picture Production Code (aka the Hays Code), which governed the ending.

For More Information

Ideas! For shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all film reviews, all reviews about women in films, and especially these about recent films…

Trailer for Oceans 8

43 thoughts on “Ocean’s 8: the most dangerous film of the year

  1. “I left Ocean’s 8 more convinced than ever that no amount of fierce, fantastic female ensembles can overcome the mediocrity of a dull male director.”
    Must be true. I encourage studios to spend large amounts of money on all-female productions.

    1. NB,

      Ocean’s 8 is solidly profitable after 3 weeks, per Box Office Mojo. Not a blockbuster, but a solid hit. It probably will become the second least most profitable of the 4 in the rebooted “Oceans” franchise, behind the previous one — “Ocean’s Eleven.”

      Update, based on NEET’s comment (below): the first in the rebooted series, Ocean’s Eleven, took in $451 million in 2018 dollars. The new Ocean’s 8 has taken in $190 million in the first 3 weeks (film sales drop fast each week).

    2. Larry, that’s only if we neglect adjusting for inflation. Then Ocean’s 8 solidly trails Ocean’s Thirteen by ~46 million. It will likely never reach that threshold either considering the rebooted trilogy relied heavily on the overseas market to maintain its popularity. Ocean’s 11-13 made roughly 62% of its total gross overseas; Ocean’s 8 has only pulled 42% so far.

    3. NEET,

      Thanks for the great catch! Being a parochial America, I forgot to compare worldwide revenue — not just US sales. Even in nominal terms, Ocean’s 8 looks likely to rank 3 last out of the 4 in the Ocean’s franchise.

      As you note, in real terms, it might take in roughly half of what the first (Ocean’s 11) took in.

    4. Larry,

      Even in unadjusted terms Ocean’s 8 has a steep mountain to climb. Ocean’s Eleven made $311 million (no inflation) by the end of its theatrical run with over $194 million overseas. I expect Ocean’s 8 to surpass it domestically in its fifth week, but with only $80 million earned in other countries it doesn’t have a prayer.

    5. What are the ticket sales though. Movie ticket inflation from oceans 11 to now was about 75%.

    6. Lexet,

      Box office is discussed upthread. Ocean’8 probably will have the smallest global box office of the 4 in the rebooted series. Even more so adjusted for inflation.

      The first in the rebooted series, Ocean’s Eleven, took in $451 million in 2018 dollars. Ocean’s 8 has taken in $190 million in the first 3 weeks (film sales drop fast each week).

      See the numbers for all 4 films at Box Office Mojo.

    7. Lexet,

      “Movie ticket inflation from oceans 11 to now was about 75%.”

      Thank you for that suggestion. Upthread we adjusted ticket sales using the CPI. Box Office Mojo shows average US ticket prices per year.

      Adjusting for increased ticket prices using the US numbers, the global box office for Ocean’s 11 is $730 million in our dollars, vs. Ocean’s 8 take in the first three weeks of $190 million.

  2. ” it demonstrates the value of Game”

    And I thought this site was a place for seeing through bullshit to get at the truth. What’s next, Larry, spending thousands of dollars on “boot camps” where you can learn how to “peacock” and “neg” and “sarge”? Good luck with that. Meanwhile, shredding one’s reputation into confetti is 100% free.

    PS Did you know that the inventor of “game” attempted suicide when his skanky stripper girlfriend dumped him?

    1. PAT,

      Wow. A fully feminist film presents insights that don’t meet your prejudices, and you blame me. But such closed minds are untreatable, in my experience.

      Good news! You can find thousands of website with information carefully curated to match your biases. In modern America there is need to get upset with contrary insights.

    2. Neil Strauss didn’t invent Game. He commercialized it at a time when traditional gender norms were breaking down and a market was growing for men who didn’t know anything other than old set of books. The stuff he talked was also discussed in Greek and Roman antiquity, except it was called “common sense” back then.

      Lambasting Strauss for not formulating Game precisely is like dismissing Darwin because he didn’t account for Mendelian genetics in his theory of evolution. Both were on the right track and could hardly be expected to invent accurate theories wholesale. Game’s controversy would hardly be worth mentioning if it was relabeled as “behavioral sexual strategies intended to trigger and maintain arousal” (which every sexually dimorphic species does).

    3. NEET,

      (1) “Neil Strauss didn’t invent Game.”

      That’s an understatement. Game is older than Strauss. It’s origins are in WWII, the largest socially disruptive even in America since the Civil War. It was first formalized in the works such as the 1970 book How to Pick Up Girls by Eric Weber and the magazine Pick-Up Times.

      (2) “Lambasting Strauss for not formulating Game precisely”

      To what are you responding? Strauss is not mentioned in this post or thread.

      (3) “Game’s controversy would hardly be worth mentioning if it was relabeled as “behavioral sexual strategies intended to trigger and maintain arousal””

      Scientists’ research is validating the precepts discovered by men on the streets. See The war of the sexes heats up as men learn about the Dark Triad.

      (4) “which every sexually dimorphic species does.”

      That’s missing the key point. History is not (with very rare exceptions) the development of new things. It is the changes in magnitude of values and their mixing into new combinations. Game is a new development in history, responding to the massive changes labeled as feminism.

    4. “Wow. A fully feminist film presents insights that don’t meet your prejudices, and you blame me.”

      Forgive me. I wasn’t referring to this film at all. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

      So, more clarity: “Game” is bullshit. Even if it worked (which it does not; anyone who thinks what happens in a fictional movie is proof of anything needs to rethink their outlook), remaking one’s entire life into a state they might not even like just to win the approval of the kind of vapid person who responds to “negging” and “peacocking” is a total waste, an absolute tragedy, even.

      “Neil Strauss didn’t invent Game. ”

      I never said he did. I was talking about that “Mystery” doofus, the one with the big, fluffy hat and black nail polish. If your “common sense” leads you to imitate that individual, go for it. It’s your life to waste as you see fit.

      https://www.mgtow.com/forums/topic/pua-guru-mystery-sucidal-in-2016-due-to-woman/

    5. PAT,

      (1) “Sorry if that wasn’t clear.”

      You were quite clear, but in your ideological excitement didn’t read the post clearly. In Ocean’s 8 Sandra Bullock describes key precepts of Game.

      (2) ““Game” is bullshit.”

      Thank you, God, for speaking — telling us that the experience of all those men are wrong!

      On the other hand, research has validated many of the key assumptions in Game. For an introduction see The war of the sexes heats up as men learn about the Dark Triad. Links are provided to the papers cited. Even Wikipedia will tell you important things that your don’t know.

      (3) “which it does not; anyone who thinks what happens in a fictional movie is proof of anything needs to rethink their outlook”

      Wow. Really missing the point. That a the woman leader in a feminist film unremarkably repeats prime precepts of Game shows their widespread recognition. Beliefs of a society are not necessarily true, but it takes someone of “unusual” (to be gentle about it) to declare that so many others are wrong.

      On the other hand, this is more evidence that the California Task Force to Promote Self-Esteem did its work well! They would be proud of you!

    6. Pat — follow-up comment

      Rather than making pronouncements that millions of people are wrong and you are right — like a messiah-on-a-soapbox-in-the-park — try citing evidence. There is a large body of social science research on these matters. Much of it (not all) validates key aspects (not all) of Game.

      Since it is social science research, it is important to look for consensus findings — avoiding what journalist Andy Revkin calls “single study syndrome” (searching until you find the one study that “proves” your prejudices. For example, that women in America tend to prefer “dark triad” traits is well supported by many studies. And by observations (eg, the love letters serial killers get).

      Try science. It is your friend.

    7. I apologize, Larry. I came in too hot.

      But this “game” crap is just a dyed-in-the-wool, 100% pure scam. It exists to sell training sessions and how-to books to desperate people. It’s not worth dignifying with space in a serious publication.

    8. PAT,

      “But this “game” crap is just a dyed-in-the-wool, 100% pure scam.”

      Since you are saying that tens of thousands of men are wrong about their experience, and that hundreds of peer-reviewed papers are wrong, there is not much to say but congratulate you on your self-esteem.

      What are the boundaries to your powers? Can you make the tide change or accurately predict stock market movements?

    9. PAT is making a typical association error common in criticisms of game. He looks at the worst actors who claim to be practitioners and uses them to write off the entire concept. Similar to anyone using the Westboro Baptist church to declare all churches and religions are devoid of value.

      There are PUAs who claim if you speak a set of phrases to any women they will have sex with you. They make outrageous claims to sell books and tapes, and exploit the desperation of lonely men. These guys aren’t good. Meanwhile though you have men like Dalrock who advocate game as a way to maintain a healthy relationship with your wife. He has never once made these crazy claims about magic pickup lines.

      Much of the modern manosphere is involved in simply observing how women behave in real life and reporting the results. This is a cardinal sin in our culture. Consider that many PUAs have been saying for years that women go after jerks and assholes when they are younger, then switch to nice stable guys when they are older and ready to settle down. Men who point this out are repeatedly called misogynist assholes, liars and scammers who hate all women and are just losers who can’t get a date.

      Yet Sheryl Sandberg advocates exactly this strategy in her book “Lean In,” read and beloved by women and the mainstream press everywhere. What is going on here?

      Clearly in our society the validity of a statement is not based on objective truth or reality, but *who* is saying it. Women are sacred; like gods, their whims are mysterious and unknowable, only to be suffered or obeyed. Men who claim to understand women are heretics; man cannot know the will of the almighty. Only the officially ordained priestesses (feminists) and their congregations can interpret these revelations.

    1. Lia,

      “well, that’s not what the budget shows”

      Your comment makes no sense. What “does the budget show” and how does that conflict with what I said here?

      The production budget for Ocean’s 8 is said to be $70 million. The marketing budget is usually roughly the same size.

  3. And it won’t necessarily be profitable: around 120-150 millions in production+ marketing means that the movie has to make around twice that to make an actual profit for its theater run. And even then, there is still money to be spread back among the casting and production crews (those Bullocks, Blanchetts or Hattaways don’t come in cheap, neither do directors and such people, and crews are unionized). The numbers are declining fast, too fast to make it back in theaters, which may even make it too hard a job for the ancillary revenues (mostly DVD/Blu Ray, TV, video on demand and streaming) to turn the tables on any significant label. Even if it ends up making a bit of money, it won’t be enough to warrant a follow up. As a relaunch of the franchise, or a franchise in and of itself “caus’these girls need no man”…. Except when they need the brand name to try and attract viewers), this thing has already bombed.

    1. Tancrede,

      “it won’t necessarily be profitable: around 120-150 millions in production+ marketing means that the movie has to make around twice that to make an actual profit for its theater run.”

      I know little about the film biz, but heard that total costs were typically 2x production costs (ie, marketing cost were similar to production costs). Here’s one explanation. Like most such , it makes little sense. For example, it mentions but does not explain the of the theater’s share of revenue.

    2. “I know little about the film biz, but heard that total costs were typically 2x production costs (ie, marketing cost were similar to production costs). Here’s one explanation. Like most such , it makes little sense. For example, it mentions but does not explain the of the theater’s share of revenue.”

      It is hard to know for any individual movie, especially the big and/or “visible” ones, where there is a high level of risk for the studio (even if just in terms of image/PR), movies for which the marketing budget can go higher than the production budget (typically for very small movies… Or some very big ones).

      Among other variables that can change mightily according to the movie are the involvement of the studio (does it invest its own money or does it involve a lot of outside investors, and therefore diminishes both risks and returns), and the various selling points said movie carry or not (famous director and/or actor, brand name/franchise….). This, in turn, impacts, sometimes heavily, what the studio can negotiate with the exhibitors (theaters), which have now often become VERY powerful via a high level of concentration made all the more necessary because of changes in their market (3D/IMAX theaters/multiplexes with fancy features are not cheap to build and maintain, and everyone is building them and only them). And ancillary revenues are not what they use to be: physical sales are down, streaming doesn’t pay well, and even video on demand, once a hope, has plateaued and now seems to be disappointing.

      Other important point, for big events: international markets, especially China, which seems to drive every studio’s strategies these days, especially since China can put 2 or 3 of its own movies in the yearly world box office, with just its own market, like Wolf Warrior 2, Operation Red Sea, Detective Chinatown 2 or Monster Hunt2…. Almost unknown in the west, yet on the top ten on a world scale (while being seldom promoted outside of China). International box office matters greatly, even if its rates of return are lower than the domestic market, and -my point here- what the studio can negotiate as its share (with success and week of diffusion as its main bargaining chips and variables) will vary even more than on the domestic market. But 40% of the sales is to be seen as a realistic average for outside markets.

      So, all in all, it still seems to be a reasonable estimate to keep the old rule of thumbs: the studio will keep around half of the total box office (less so if the movie makes significantly more abroad, more so if the domestic market weighs inordinately in the total bow office), and have to deduce its costs from there (including the post theater run costs), which means production + promotion. Very few movies, and not all franchises, offer that many possibilities in terms of other revenues (merchandising, tie-ins….): the Ocean 11 series, typically, has nothing of the likes. I doubt the actresses’wardrobes would constitutes a significant branding opportunity, even if the movie was a massive success, and I don’t see a “make your heist” theme park, a TV series (another not so lucrative, one-winner-for-a-thousand-losers business), or a video game, anywhere in the future.

      Whether this movie ends up recouping its total investment remains to be seen (I doubt it very much, considering the tepid audience response and the bad video market), but as I said: it already is NOT a franchise launcher. If a sequel was decided, other reasons than financial would be why. And don’t get me wrong: within the decision-making circles, in the short term, these reasons do exist and weigh, sometimes heavily, in some of these decision-making processes: “political capital” of a specific producer, will of a studio to create a franchise and give another go to a dead horse, ideology…. But in the long run, economic rationality tends to re-establish its rights.

  4. The women complain when in a mixed gender movie the men make more.

    Can I assume that all the women in this movie were paid the same?

    1. Sven,

      “Can I assume that all the women in this movie were paid the same?”

      I believe the objection is to men being paid more than women of similar box-office stature. I assume that there was no gender discrimination in the pay of the actors in Ocean’s 8.

      I unaware of anyone who believes that all actors should receive the same pay.

  5. ” know little about the film biz, but heard that total costs were typically 2x production costs (ie, marketing cost were similar to production costs). Here’s one explanation. Like most such , it makes little sense. For example, it mentions but does not explain the of the theater’s share of revenue.”

    Edward J Epstein has a couple of good books on the film business as it actually is. The Big Picture and The Hollywood Economist. The bottom line is that most movies lose money, and the studios depend on their big franchise pictures to keep the producers in cocaine and teenage hookers.I don’t know how Ocean’s 8 actually did, I’ve seen no numbers other than the ones you give. It probably did well enough to be considered a success. It may have broke even, it may have made a profit, and if it actually lost money, I doubt it lost enough that anyone really cares.

    1. The Man,

      “I doubt it lost enough that anyone really cares.”

      I know enough about the history of the film biz to know that its management cares a great deal about the profitability of individual pictures — and the trends in profitability of the franchises which are the tentpole of the biz today.

    2. “I know enough about the history of the film biz to know that its management cares a great deal about the profitability of individual pictures — and the trends in profitability of the franchises which are the tentpole of the biz today.”

      Not only do they care a great deal, even in big franchises with numerous movies and other revenue streams, but the results of individual movies weigh heavily in the power games of the corporate inner political scene: on a whole other scale, we are witnessing right now the bitter infighting around Kathleen Kennedy’s still breathing professional corpse, for example. Disney wants her fired, but nobody wants her job, given the state of the Star Wars franchise (an antagonized fandom that has to be re-conquered, an editorial line to re-define) and the fact that whomever will replace her would have to contend with the very numerous loyalist staff that she has put in place at Lucasfilm (which is in a state of civil war between those “political” appointees and the “traditionalists”/historical people in the company -the remaining Lucas people). Any individual movie’s commercial fate can and will become a political tool, will be interpreted in a thousand way to fit the narrative of any ambitious or hostile individual/faction. Very Game-of-Throne-y.

      But not all franchises are worth the same, not all of them carry a wide array of revenue streams that depend on image and trending of a movie/series of movies, and not all of them have the same level of staying power or penetration in the cultural landscape and the “hearts and minds”. In the case of Ocean’s 8, we have a product whose fate will depend solely on its results in theaters and on the home video market: judgement will be harsher than for franchises that also create attractions in theme parks or entire theme parks, as well as video games, a mass or merchandising of all types and a staying power in hearts and minds (especially the young and malleable ones).

      Ghostbusters, Ocean’s 11, Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed (and most if not all of the video games translated to the big screen) and the Dark Universe: just recent examples of failed franchises (or sub-franchises) continuations, relaunches, re-boots or beginnings.

      NB: as a related segway and just to go along your ongoing observations on popular culture and gender relations, I recommend a quick examination of the TV series Lucifer (tied to the so called Vertigo universe of DC Comics). It is a case in point of a total crushing, castration and buffoon-ization of a great comics character (the devil himself) to feed a narrative made to highlight a female character (about as original and savoury as a stock image or an un-buttered toast, as credible as a Trump tweet) and a few secondary ones. Exactly what you pointed out in Castle, but on steroids. Just one among many such products: they rarely -if ever- score high, but some last a while.

    3. Trancede,

      (1) Great point about Kathleen Kennedy (see the video that started the story), showing Hollywood management’s extreme interest in the box office of individual films.

      (2) Re: “Lucifer”

      Wow. The Wikipedia entry says that every major male character is broken, and the women soar. The female lead is awesomeness incarnate: she is immune to Lucifer’s powers and Lucifer becomes vulnerable to physical harm when near her.

      From that brief description, it look like in effect a castration fantasy.

      That’s the next logical step from the shows I described, “Castle” and “NCIS LA”, in which the lead alphas were broken into pitiful betas by the lead women: Disturbing next steps in the gender revolution.

    4. I’m surprised the series Lucifer was brought up. I enjoyed the first two seasons as I thought Lucifer was a kind of suave dandy Brit who could manipulate people at will. However, partly because either I’m working out or actually working at that time slot, but mostly because of how the series is now tilting towards the Mary Sue female detective is why I have stopped watching the series. And the fact that she’s a divorcee with a daughter made me suspicious of the series and its direction.

    5. rocko,

      Thank you for sharing your experience watching it. What’s your reaction to the summary I posted above from Wikipedia? It looks like of another “breaking all the men” shows, a trendy genre.

  6. I want to find out an exact figure for the production budget of this film. I thought they usually spend around half of the production budget,but some films spend more. Any one have an exact official figure?

    1. Lord,

      Production costs (not budgets, which are for planning) are seldom officially released. We have some hard data, such as for the early second generation Disney animations (eg, the Little Mermaid and after). These were financed by Silver Screen limited partnerships, and demonstrated to the general public that Hollywood’s numbers are corrupt. The partners were told their profit participations yielded little because these films made little.

      That’s why insiders get paid on the basis of gross revenue, to avoid the studio’s cooking the books on the production costs.

      The usual rule — only roughly accurate — is that marketing and distribution costs are broadly equal to production costs. This has become more complex as global distribution has become such a large fraction of total revenue.

  7. Hi Larry,
    Have you seen Bone Tomahawk? You might find it a dark, provocative contrast to Oceans 8.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.