Brad Pitt's Double Bill: The Odyssey and Moneyball
by Alex Billington
October 17, 2008
Two major casting announcements for Brad Pitt tonight, both being interesting projects based on literature. The first, an outer space adaptation of Homer's "The Odyssey"; the second, Steve Zaillian's adaptation of Michael Lewis' nonfiction book "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game". Given I went through the American education system myself and was forced to read "The Odyssey", I know that almost everyone is familiar with that story, but what is Moneyball all about? The book is a baseball and business management combo that tells the story of Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, and his team's modernized, statistics-heavy approach to running the organization ??.
The Odyssey project is setup at Warner Brothers with Happy Feet director George Miller set to adapt the screenplay and hopefully direct. Instead of telling the classic story in ancient Greek times, when it was written by Homer, the intention is to transfer it to a futuristic setting in outer space, further continuing Hollywood's upcoming sci-fi trend. Warner Brothers doesn't have Brad Pitt or George Miller signed and ready to go, but they're giving this an early greenlight in hopes of securing both of them. "The Odyssey" follows the Greek hero Odysseus and his long journey home to Ithaca following the fall of Troy. If this were set in a world as stunning as Mass Effect, it could be incredible, but I fear it won't be that great.
Moneyball is a project setup at Sony that we first mentioned way back in March. Oscar winning screenwriter Steve Zaillian (Schindler's List, Mission: Impossible, American Gangster) has signed on to adapt the screenplay for David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada, Marley & Me) to direct. I absolutely love the concept of this book and really hope it turns out well on the big screen. Producer Michael De Luca previously explained what their take is: a "dramatic depiction of that 2002 season" that is "condensed to really the beginning and end of that season that contained the 22 game winning streak." De Luca adds: "I think there should be a mix of a sports movie but also an anti-establishment triumph of the individual in terms of the way Billy Beane went up against conventional wisdom and the bureaucracy."
I'm clearly much more interested in Moneyball than Odyssey, especially because I'm excited to see Brad Pitt give his interpretation of Billy Beane. But that's not to say I have visions of grandeur with an outer space "Odyssey" as well. That image on the cover of the "The Forever War" book keeps coming to mind when thinking about this. Anything sci-fi I'm usually excited by, and I'm probably the only one who will defend this idea, but that's because I'm looking past the basics and into my imagination. I also still firmly believe that Brad Pitt is, hands down, one of the great actors of our generation and will do a great job exploring both of these projects. Which project interests you more - Moneyball or Odyssey?