It’s hard to argue that the remake of the 1960 original Ocean’s 11 was not a hit. The cast, direction, screenplay, everything worked because, even as a revival, Ocean’s Eleven was fresh. The sequels were bound to have a hard time hitting the mark. Ocean’s 8 performed well domestically but grossed the worst in the series in terms of global revenue, its $297,718,711 a far cry from the first movie’s $450,717,150. A comparison of all four titles suggests audiences are less easy to impress now. Producers are, of course, not done with Ocean and his crews. The current surge in TV show reboots makes fans of this particular franchise keen on the idea of it being adapted for the small screen. Looking at the industry’s landscape, would an Ocean’s Eleven TV series likely be a gem or a flop?
With Netflix and Amazon Prime changing the game, TV is not what it used to be. More productions and greater accessibility have created a discerning audience with broad tastes. Getting it right is a challenge, but the fact that Syfy’s 12 Monkeys succeeded in pleasing fans of the original 1995 title for four strong seasons means that it’s not impossible. Good judgment in all aspects of concept and direction – and a decent budget, too – can result in a production that resonates with viewers and sets the next new standard in TV series production.
Movies-turned-TV shows have existed for decades. Among the 20 titles listed on Rolling Stones is Serpico, an extension of Al Pacino’s 1973 movie, except with David Birney as the titular character. Its theme is the closest relatable to an Ocean’s Eleven adaptation, but it also demonstrates how the market for such stories has strengthened over time, considering the popularity of crime dramas now. If Ocean follows his trademark ingenuity and innovation onto the small screen, an audience will definitely be there to greet him.
After all, bold heists and mobsters are just as entertaining to binge watch. The growing Now You See Me franchise comes to mind, as well as several must-watch mafia shows of the past, like The Sopranos (1999-2007) and Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014). If Martin Scorsese, who was heavily involved in Boardwalk Empire, has faith in TV’s ability and willingness to host quality productions, then there are high hopes for an ambitious project like Ocean’s Eleven.
How Ocean Fits
Whether in a book or the small or silver screen, there’s a recipe for creating a heist scenario that’s engaging and memorable. Out of the eight key elements explained by LitReactor, three would benefit the most from a series format. Firstly, characters, good and bad, need time to reveal themselves – their lives and reasons for either turning to crime or building an empire of casinos. They breathe life into a story. The more likeable and interesting they are, the more immersive the series. This also applies to their relationships, thinking back to how Danny Ocean meets and forms a friendship with Linus, Matt Damon’s character. A TV show is a great way of fleshing out the personalities and dynamics that could affect the heist.
The basic part of a story like this is the plan itself. It has to be intricate, unpredictable, and dangerous. If the Breaking the Bank at Caligula’s mission in GTA: San Andreas seems complex, a fictional robbery on TV needs to be even more so to be realistic. Breaking down the scheme, its twists and hiccups, over a number of episodes instead of an hour and a half would allow it all to sink in better. A typical problem with heist movies is the pace – too fast to keep up. While this does motivate some viewers to watch it all over again, a production’s creators taking the time to ease their audience into the plot is always appreciated. People also become more mentally and emotionally involved.
Finally, as already pointed out, plausibility is important. Apart from the plot, the story’s situations and settings need to be believable. Since the Ocean’s series largely takes place in casinos, for example, a TV adaptation could have viewers look deeper into these places and what they mean to the story’s structure and concepts. Its on-screen representation lies, not just in the terminology, but the crowd and suspense, the joys and lights. A production with looser time boundaries is an opportunity to build detail and atmosphere that the movie never had. As viewers, and even participants in casino games, films and online experiences have allowed us to enjoy the casino from the comfort of our home. With the use of live HD video streaming for games such as Betway roulette, fans of casino games can find greater immersion than ever before. With this in mind, having a TV series that can flesh out these experiences can similarly provide viewers with the thrills of playing at a real-life casino.
If this dream is ever realized, though, it would have to be exceptional to compete with other shows, as originality and intrigue increasingly become common ingredients among filmmakers. Let’s not forget how Marvel dropped all its top earners, including Daredevil, with season 3 bringing the hero’s tormented story to a dramatic close. But Ocean’s Eleven has many features that would shine on the small screen. Whoever accepts the challenge is unlikely to take them lightly.