The Ocean’s 8 cast. (Source: Ocean’s 8/Facebook)

Bullock, Blanchett With Heist Game Take ‘Ocean’s 8’ to No. 1

(Bloomberg) -- A gender-flipped version of the “Ocean’s Eleven” heist franchise, starring some of the best-known women in Hollywood, opened as the No. 1 film in U.S. and Canadian theaters.

“Ocean’s 8” collected $41.6 million in North American ticket sales, ComScore Inc. said Monday in an email, pushing “Solo: A Star Wars Story” into second place in its third weekend with $15.7 million. Two other new releases helped stoke weekend attendance, with the A24 horror feature “Hereditary” placing fourth and Global Road Entertainment thriller “Hotel Artemis” opening in eighth place.

Starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway, the female-led “Ocean’s 8” opened stronger than the earlier films, which featured a cast that included George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, without adjusting for inflation. “Ocean’s 12” had the biggest opening of the three earlier films, at $39.2 million. Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. studio is the distributor.

“The cast was spectacular,” said Gitesh Pandya, editor of Boxofficeguru.com, by telephone. “This furthers the thinking that you can have a lot of projects out there driven by female star power and bring in the box office.”

Warner Bros. spent $70 million on the production, and millions more marketing the picture. It was expected to take in $45 million, Box Office Mojo estimated.

Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, the estranged sister of the con man played by Clooney. After a stint in prison, she puts together an unstoppable team of crooks. Their target is the annual Met Gala in New York and a necklace worth more than $150 million.

Co-stars include Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson and Helena Bonham Carter. The film scored 67 percent positive reviews, according to aggregator Rottentomatoes.com.

Warner Bros. can now use the all-female Ocean’s 8 as a base for sequels, as the company did for the previous all-male line-ups in the earlier Ocean movies, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Paul Sweeney said by telephone. Gone are the days when the industry banks on a single star to carry movies, he said.

More spinoffs are probable, said Jeff Goldstein, president of domestic theatrical distribution for Warner Bros. “We hit an underserved audience,” he said. “We hit them straight on. The actors had an incredible chemistry together.”

“Hereditary” got a thumbs up from 93 percent of critics and generated sales of $13.6 million, beating the $9.6 million projected by Box Office Pro. That marked a record opening for distributor A24. Toni Collette stars as Annie Graham. After her mother dies, the Graham family starts to discover cryptic and terrifying secrets about their ancestry.

The action thriller “Hotel Artemis” from Global Road opened with revenue of $3.2 million, ahead of the $2.5 million seen by Box Office Pro. It scored 59 percent positive reviews, Rottentomatoes said.

Set in a dystopian, future Los Angeles, the film features Jodie Foster as the Nurse, who runs a secret, members-only emergency room for criminals. Sterling K. Brown and Jeff Goldblum are among the co-stars.

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