Sony Dumps Steven Soderbergh's Moneyball Movie Last Minute!
by Alex Billington
June 21, 2009
A mere 3 days before that start of production, Columbia Pictures has decided to drop Steven Soderbergh's Moneyball. On Friday, Sony Pictures' Co-Chairman Amy Pascal placed the project into a “limited turnaround,” giving the filmmaker the chance to set it up at another studio, with Warner Brothers and Paramount the prime targets. The move came after Pascal read the final draft delivered last week by Oscar winner Steven Zaillian and found it very different from the earlier scripts she championed. Pascal was uncomfortable with how Soderbergh’s vision had changed and decided to stop the project before it began.
If a new financier doesn’t emerge by the end of today (via Variety), Columbia will re-examine options that include replacing Soderbergh, delaying the film until Pascal and the filmmaker find themselves in "sync" on the script, or simply pulling the plug entirely. Apparently some of Pascal's concerns centered around the lack of traction the film would've had in the international marketplace, because baseball isn't the most popular sport worldwide, and that even with a minimal budget of $50 million, it still wouldn't have been entirely worth it for them. To top that off, Soderbergh was again going to try an experimental visual style.
Soderbergh had already shot actual interviews with real baseball players like Billy Beane's former Mets teammates Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson and Darryl Strawberry that would be interspersed in the film. As we also reported previously, he was going to animate one of the important characters, the "stats guru" Bill James. While Soderbergh was confident that all of that would work visually, Pascal and Columbia were not. He had already cast Brad Pitt and Demetri Martin in the lead roles and was going to use real Oakland A's baseball players to play themselves. To me, this seemed like it could be a hit, at least with US audiences.
This is very unfortunate, as I was looking forward to seeing Steven Soderbergh, of all great directors, bring Moneyball to life. It's definitely a tough adaptation to pull off and Soderbergh seems to be getting more experiemental these days, but I still love him as a director, and I think he would've made one of the most unique adaptations we'd have ever seen. Here's to hoping another studio steps up and gives him a chance!