Sony Strikes Out MONEYBALL Three Days Before Filming Begins

     June 21, 2009

moneyball_book_cover_01.jpgIn some surprising news, Variety is reporting that Sony has just ditched Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming adaptation of Michael Lewis’ best-selling book “Moneyball” starring Brad Pitt.  Apparently, Sony Co-Chairman Amy Pascal put the film into “limited turnaround” after reading Steven Zallian’s latest version of the script which Pascal says differed wildly from earlier versions and she was no long comfortable with how Soderbergh’s vision had changed the project.  In this limited turnaround, the film is now available for Soderbergh to take it to another studio, with reportedly Paramount and Warner Bros. in the front-running.

The film was set to begin filming tomorrow but on Friday, Pascal saw the latest script and that’s when everything was thrown out of whack.  From Variety:

If a new financier doesn’t emerge by today, Columbia will re-examine options that include replacing Soderbergh (and hoping Pitt doesn’t ankle), delaying the film until Pascal and the filmmaker find themselves in synch on the script or pulling the plug.

brad_pitt_image__1_.jpgWhile the film had a fairly steep price-tag for a baseball flick at $50 million, it seemed that the combined clout of Pitt and Soderbergh adapting a best-selling book would be enough to get the film in production and pulling the plug only three days before filming is set to begin leaves me thinking that, surprise, surprise, Variety may not be reporting the full story.

If Variety is to be believed, Pascal balked at the $50 million price tag and new version of the script which would have an animated Bill James, the man who came up with the stats system that allowed Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane (to be played by Pitt) to craft his cost-effective and championship-winning team.  The film would also include real former players like David Justice and Scott Hatteberg as actors and intersperse interview vignettes with other players like Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson and Darryl Strawberry.

If Soderbergh, goes, I imagine Pitt goes as well unless they have an equally presitgious director already lined-up with a vision of the film that Pitt finds equally appealing.  Good luck with that.  Furthermore, it’s not like this is the only film on Soderbergh’s plate.  He has his planned Cleopatra musical and possibly a biopic about Liberace.

Still, this is a disappointment because the sports film has become so rote and a pairing of Soderbergh with a book about stats is something beyond the standard “Underdogs Win-It-All and/or Learn-Important-Lesson” story we see in most films.

We’ll keep on this story to see if it has any more chances or if this, as they say, is the ball game.

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