December 7, 2001
What do you get if you take four of the most famous actors in the world and put them in one movie? Ocean's 11. Steven Soderbergh's deal with the devil was apparently renewed through at least 2001, as he managed to get George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon as male leads and Julia Roberts as the female lead. For his next trick, he will make a crowd of people appear at theaters opening weekend.
By now, you are probably wondering what is Ocean's 11 anyway? It's a remake of the classic 1960 Rat Pack movie starring Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, Angie Dickinson and Peter Lawford that is widely considered the best of the group's joint efforts. The plot has been modernized slightly (and here's hoping the female characters get more than Russ Meyer treatment this time), as a group of 11 people, led by Danny Ocean, attempts to rob three Las Vegas casinos during a Lennox Lewis pay-per-view boxing match. The large number of thieves involved in the plot is what allows for the volume of casting coups pulled off by the producers. With a cast this strong (you'll notice I haven't even mentioned Don Cheadle yet), and a director coming off of dual best-picture nominations, there is no ceiling to what we should be able to expect at the box office.
This film is so loaded with star-power, there is an argument that can be made that there is no possible way for this film to meet expectations. In fact, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts just worked together on another film, The Mexican. It was not a box-office smash by any stretch, though it did moderately well with $67 million total domestic. Relative to budget, The Mexican was a success, but with these two stars headlining, the project was widely considered a disappointment, with a soft opening compared to Roberts' last few films and only average legs. We learned from this that people will not blindly go see a film for the cast alone. The ad campaign must make the movie look appealing. The Mexican didn't succeed to a large enough degree, so it was not a blockbuster. Ocean's 11 should, in theory, blow past it in both opening and overall performance, but if the trailers aren't very good, it's history quickly repeating itself.
At this point, there is no reason to believe that Steven Soderbergh would make anything less than a fantastic film. His last four directorial efforts, Traffic, Erin Brockovich, The Limey and Out Of Sight, rival any consecutive four films of any director in the last two decades. The combined domestic box-office of his last two films exceeds $250 million and, as mentioned above, each was nominated for best picture. It's very difficult for a Hollywood player to be any hotter than he is at this moment; however, we could have said the same thing about Kevin Costner coming off of Dances with Wolves, and we all know how that turned out.
The grim fact of Hollywood life is that when someone is built up this high, folks line up to try to tear him down at a later date. Ocean's 11 is almost a can't-win proposition for Soderbergh. If it does over $100 million, it's done what was expected due to the star power involved. If it does less than that, we certainly can't blame darling Julia or saintly George, so the director becomes the fall guy. He easily has the most to lose on this project. I don't think he cares though. By all accounts, he's one of the good guys in Hollywood and is working with his close friends George Clooney and Julia Roberts, so he's having fun in a big project with the potential to be top three of the holiday season. I'd rank it even higher if I weren't so certain that Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter had number one and number two already locked up. The third spot is probably going to come down to Monsters, Inc. or Ocean's 11, barring a dark horse, so Steven has worked with close friends for months and possibly added another big hit to his resumé. That's a great gig if you can get it.
On paper, this film looks massive, but we're waiting for footage to decide for sure. (David Mumpower/BOP)
Vital statistics for Ocean's Eleven
George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Bernie Mac, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia
Mark Gantt, Timothy Paul Perez, Elliott Gould, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison, Shaobo Qin, Carl Reiner, Don Cheadle
||Click Here for Trailer
|| Calvin Trager reivews Oceans' Eleven
- Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for Andy Garcia, 2002 ALMA Awards
- Bogey Award in Gold, 2002 Bogey Awards
Awards page for Ocean's Eleven
||Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture
Comparison films for Ocean's Eleven
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