EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has firmed an October start date in New York for Ocean’s Eight, the female-driven caper spinoff directed by Gary Ross, and the studio is closing with its principal cast. Aside from the previously identified Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett, deals are close with Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling and Awkwafina. The latter is the hip-hop moniker of Asian-American rapper and actress Nora Lum, who most recently had a role in Neighbors 2.
The picture is still casting — the firmed roster so far falls one shy of the title — and there is every possibility for cameos from the stars of the original trilogy, which grossed a collective $1.12 billion worldwide. Ross discussed the possibility of Bullock, Blanchett, Carter and Kaling while he was out promoting his most recent film, the Matthew McConaughey starrer Free State of Jones. Village Roadshow Pictures is co-financing and co-producing with Warner Bros.
The film will be produced by Ocean’s Eleven director Steven Soderbergh, and Ross wrote the script with Olivia Milch. Ross and Soderbergh are longtime informal collaborators, serving as second unit director on each other’s films and as sounding board on scripts and projects.
They have been planning this film with Warner Bros President of Creative Development and Worldwide Production Greg Silverman long enough that the initial conversations included Jerry Weintraub, the venerable producer of the original Ocean’s Eleven trilogy whose star-studded cast included George Clooney, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt. Weintraub died last summer. Susan Ekins is executive producer and production senior veep Jesse Ehrman is overseeing the film with Silverman for Warner Bros.
For Rihanna, this becomes another high profile entry into movies for the singing star who most recently shot the summer 2017 Luc Besson-directed Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Silverman has been trying to find a vehicle for her since seeing Rihanna at a House of Blues appearance early in her career. The film first galvanized around Bullock, who starred in Gravity and has a long relationship with the studio, and then Blanchett.
Both of them have won Oscars and so has Hathaway, with Carter nominated twice. This is turning out to be quite the prestige ensemble as Warner Bros moves aggressively to continue the caper franchise hatched way back in 1960 with a film that starred Frank Sinatra in the title role of Danny Ocean.
He was surrounded by his Rat Pack pals Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop, along with Angie Dickinson. Clooney, who inherited that title role and helped architect the remake with his then-partner Soderbergh, and Weintraub, always said that when he watched the original with his buddies, it didn’t hold up as well as he remembered the film. But he and Soderbergh loved the ensemble caper concept, and who could have imagined the staying power this franchise would have?