In recent years, Hollywood has come under increasing pressure to address what’s seen as a huge gender inequality issue within the movie industry. With an overwhelmingly positive response to Paul Feig’s upcoming all-female remake of Ghostbusters, and now the news of a possible Ocean’s Eleven reboot, this time with an all-star female cast, it’s looking like things may be about to change.
Rumours of the all-female sequel began to circulate last year, as reported by The Playlist. Since then there have been numerous reports of who will join the cast. Oscar winner Sandra Bullock is reportedly set to step into the lead role, made famous by George Clooney in the 2001 remake of the original film and its sequels.
Hunger Games director Gary Ross has been tipped to direct the remake, which has the backing of the last trilogy’s director Steven Soderbergh, who is also rumoured to be teaming up with the original leading man Clooney to produce it. Little Women screenwriter Olivia Milch has also been reported to have submitted a rewritten version of the script in line with the new all-female cast. So, to celebrate the return of one of the most successful film franchises of recent years, here’s a rundown of some of the best facts, figures, rumours and trivia from the previous movies.
The cast: The 1960’s vs. the 2000’s
The upcoming all-female Ocean’s Eleven will be the third iteration of the franchise, following 2001’s remake of the original Ocean’s 11 from 1960, which starred a series of actors dubbed “the rat pack”: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Junior, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop. Upon its first release, the original received a moderate response, but many felt the on-screen capers were somewhat overshadowed by the notorious off-screen activity of the leading actors, who were well-known for their womanising. The film is now available as part of a box set called The Rat Pack Collection, which also includes 1964’s Robin and the 7 Hoods and 1963’s action comedy 4 for Texas.
The 2001 remake was released on December 7 2001 and opened to an overwhelmingly positive response, grossing $38,107,822 in the opening weekend alone – a stark contrast to the original which since its release has grossed just $12,317,000 in the US.
Whilst following a similar plot as the original, Soderbergh’s revamp appeared to intentionally distance itself from the 1960’s movie, with only George Clooney’s character of Danny Ocean being a direct recast from Sinatra’s original role. The other characters were famously played by some of Hollywood’s highest earners of the time, including Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts, who famously received a copy of the script from George Clooney with a $20 bill attached. Clooney included a note saying “I hear you’re getting 20 a picture now”; a joke in reference to the rumours that she was commanding $20 million a film at the time.
The movie also lost several intended cast members to Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums, including Luke and Owen Wilson, who were originally cast as the Malloy brothers and Danny Glover, who was supposed to play Bernie Mac’s role of Frank Catton.
Don Cheadle, who played the role of Cockney munitions expert Basher, was also famously unlisted in the credits of the 2001 remake. Rumour has it that Cheadle argued to be billed just below George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, but producers refused. In protest, he insisted that his name not be listed at all, although he later appeared in both Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007), and was credited in both.
With any movie you’ll always find hidden references, Easter eggs and in-jokes which are unique to the cast, crew or theme of the film, and the Ocean’s Eleven franchise is no exception.
Throughout the movie, the cast make regular hints at the movie’s iconic setting of Las Vegas, regularly dropping casino and gambling phrases and connotations when supposedly talking about other things. One of the most famous of these is George Clooney’s line to Brad Pitt’s Rusty, when explaining his motivation behind the heist.
“Cause the house always wins. Play long enough, you never change the stakes. The house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes along, you bet and your bet big, then you take the house.”
This serves as direct reference to the setting of the film itself, but also as a commentary on life as these characters view it. Indeed, most of us use casino lingo as metaphors for life very frequently, with phrases such as “playing your cards right” and being “on a roll.” There are many fascinating examples of this linguistic crossover from casinos into daily life, even on films completely unrelated to casino games.
Clooney’s character, Danny Ocean, also makes a gambling reference when propositioning the gang at the initial gathering when he says “You’re either in or you’re out. Right now.” A subtle reference to the common gambling saying of being “in it to win it.”
Other subtle references and in jokes include the well-known characteristic of Brad Pitt’s role, Rusty Ryan, who is famously always eating in the movies. This particular quirk was never written into the film, but Brad Pitt reportedly thought it’d be funny. His reasoning was that the con-men would arguably always be on the go and as a result would rarely have time to eat. Rumour has it that in the scene where Pitt and Damon are waiting for Julia Roberts’ Tess to walk down the stairs in the Bellagio they had to do so many takes that Brad Pitt ate over 40 individual shrimp!
Behind The Scenes
For the most part, Ocean’s Eleven was filmed on location in Las Vegas. The plot of the 2001 movie centres around three of the Strip’s most iconic casinos, The Bellagio, The Mirage and The MGM Grand, and all three were surprisingly lenient when it came to giving the cast and crew access to film, allowing them access to the casino floor, corridors and grounds. The only exception came to the vaults, which were understandably out of bounds and instead shot on a soundstage.
And whilst many of Las Vegas’ most well recognised landmarks make cameos in the movie perhaps the most famous of all is the Bellagio fountains. Set in an 8 acre manmade lake the fountains cost an estimated $8million to build, incorporate 1,200 nozzles and over 4,500 lights, which makes it even more impressive that half of the lake was drained and a temporary walkway built especially for Ocean’s Eleven. This was to allow the cast members to easily walk out of shot rather than straight into the street, when filming the fountains scene at the end of the film.
Due to having more or less unlimited access to three of the most famous casinos in the world, it was inevitable that the cast and crew were going to make the most of the gambling opportunities. All of the cast members reportedly gambled in between shoots, but it’s widely disputed as to who had the biggest wins. When questioned in interviews, George Clooney stated that Matt Damon won the most, whilst Matt Damon argued that Brad Pitt was the luckiest member of the cast. What is known for certain is that George Clooney lost 25 hands of blackjack in a row!
There’s no denying that Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen have been some of the most commercially successful heist films of all time, so we’ll be on the edge of our seats to see what the new all-female remake has to offer and add to the already popular Ocean’s lore.
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