Hollywood’s Gender Switch

Why industry suddenly loves female-led reboots

Sandra Bullock’s new film “Our Brand Is Crisis” finds her playing a character originally written for a male actor. Now, she’s signed on to take George Clooney’s place in a big-screen reboot.

Bullock is set to star in an “Ocean’s 11” reboot, a franchise that released its third and formerly final chapter all the way back in 2008.

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That film trilogy featured Clooney as the head of a gang that pulled off incredibly complicated heists. Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Don Cheadle kept audiences guessing for three feature films, each of which made oodles of cash (even though the second installment was terrible). Now, at a time when films are routinely rebooted in favor of original stories, it’s the girls’ turn to peddle nostalgia.

Consider the upcoming “Ghostbusters” film featuring female paranormal heroes. Or the proposed “Road House” remake with Ronda Rousey cracking skulls like Patrick Swayze once did. What about a new “Fantasy Island” series with an actress playing the role Ricardo Montalban made famous in the 1970s?

So why is Hollywood suddenly obsessed with using actresses to replace men in rebooted stories?

  • Guilt: Any glance at behind the scenes figures in Hollywood reveal a disproportionate number of men in all key fields — in front of the camera, behind the camera and making the important decisions at the studio level. Producers figure they can throw a gaggle of actresses into established properties, and it might distract some from realizing the industry’s genuine imbalance.
  • It’s cheaper: Hollywood routinely pays actresses less than their male peers. Just ask Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence, who went public late last month about how she failed to net the same paychecks as her “American Hustle” peers. Perhaps those Hollywood bean counters figure they can keep the budgets lower by hiring women, not men.
  • Less complaining: The industry looks down upon women who speak their minds on a film set, dubbing them “bossy” or worse. Perhaps the filmmakers behind these reboots hope that stereotype convinces the female stars not to rock the boat, if you know what we mean.
  • Equality: Hey, if actors can star in lousy, unimaginative reboots, women can, too.

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