by David Baxter
Moneyball, as we know it, is dead. Like really dead this time. With Steven Soderbergh having left last week the signs were bad but now it’s a whole lot worse. The New York Times is reporting that the whole project has stopped and Brad Pitt, the proposed star, is looking for something else to fill his time with.
Filming would have kicked off in Los Angeles, Oakland and Phoenix last week. But from there we’ve ended up with it back to square one. The problems were numerous, and seemed to kick off with Soderbergh’s redraft of Steve Zaillian’s work, which gave it a more documentary feel. Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal, who is very hands on with development scripts, didn’t like it. This caused a speed bump that couldn’t be overcome. Adding to this was the fact that Major League Baseball did like it and were against Zaillian’s smudging of the facts. Without this endorsement much of the filming would have been hurt, as they were being allowed to shoot at MLB locations.
While Sony looked to get a new director on board, Soderbergh and Pitt were trying to get it set up somewhere else. Unfortunately Paramount, Warners and Fox passed. The budget was $57 million which may have scared them off, as its out of indie territory. They also didn’t seem to think Moneyball had mass appeal due to the American nature, which wouldv’e been a tough sell, even with Pitt on board, due to the rest of the world’s ambivalence to the old bat an’ ball.
It marks a shift in strategy in Hollywood as usually stars guide what they want to the screen. Entertainment lawyer Eric Weissmann claimed this age may be out:
“They’re much more careful about doing a movie just because a star wants to do it.”
Bad news for the A-list then, seems that money is boss post-credit crunch.
So who’s hurt here? Soderbergh should come away with little damage, as everyone can support standing up for your creative belief. Pitt also can’t have been expected to stay on indefinitely, waiting for it to be picked up. The big loser is therefore Sony, who were in the hole for $10 million. I also feel bad for the producers who have been trying to get this to the screen for a long time. Maybe they’ll be successful next time.
What do you think? Would you still like to see Moneyball?