The news around Moneyball has gotten worse, now that the studios have had the weekend and Monday to weigh the risks behind the Steven Soderbergh/Brad Pitt baseball film.
As explained previously (CLICK), Moneyball is a film based on the true story of William Lemar “Billy” Beane managing the Oakland A’s to a winning record without massively overloading the team’s budget. Pitt is attached to play Beane and comedian Dimitri Martin is one of the few other actors in the cast made up of real life baseball players.
Columbia head Amy Pascal put the project into limited turnaround, hoping either Warner Brothers, who had ties to Soderbergh or Paramount, which houses Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B.
It was a bad weekend to go to Paramount with last Friday’s executive shake-up changing the company’s creative development landscape and, according to The LA Times, a bad movie to shop around to Warners in the first place:
By Monday, Paramount and Warner Bros. had already decided to pass. Similarly budgeted dramas aimed at adults, such as “State of Play,” “Duplicity” and “The International,” have all fared poorly at the box office this year. “Moneyball” has the added burden of being about baseball, which would not only limit its appeal among women, but also overseas audiences. International receipts from theatrical, television and DVD sales typically account for more than half of a film’s total sales.
As studios continue to tighten their belts, those added up to more than enough reasons to flash a red light.
“In light of the economic climate, Warner and Paramount said they weren’t going to make the movie,” said Pitt’s manager, Cynthia Pett-Dante. She added that Pitt “totally supports Steven all the way” in his vision for the movie.
Soderbergh’s manager, Michael Sugar, declined comment on behalf of the director.
The details about how and what went wrong seem to vary from source to source. The LA Times piece sounds reasonable when suggesting that the current economic climate and short-comings of similarly themed films chased Columbia, Warners and Paramount away, but something feels off about that sentiment.
Judging from all reports, it seems that Soderbergh’s most recent draft made Pascal nervous about the financial prospects of a baseball film that needs to gross $100 million dollars to break even. What’s odd is that it doesn’t seem like the new draft was that drastically different, and given the above reasons cited by the Times, I can guarantee you that it’s always been an adult-themed baseball movie. Just what flick did Pascal think she was developing, and when did it start seeming like a bad idea?
We do know that Pascal and Soderbergh have met and agreed to disagree, which isn’t unusual for the director, who had a similarly convoluted and turnaround-filled process for his film Traffic (a picture studio execs were also nervous about, both because of it’s subtitled sequences and run-and-gun visual style), but Russ Fischer from /Film pointed me in the direction of a post on “The Hot Blog” that suggests Brad Pitt is “pulling a State Of Play” by holding up Moneyball and Pascal is falling on the poor-PR sword to save Pitt from a nasty industry reputation.
Sad thing is, if that report has any air of truth to it, we’ll never know. It’s not like Brad Pitt is hiring bush-league publicits.
For all intensive purposes, Moneyball is dead, at least with this particular cast and crew. Short of a financing miracle akin to DreamWorks’ Dubai connections (not that it worked out, but it was exciting), we probably won’t be seeing a Brad Pitt/Steven Soderbergh baseball film.