Warner Bros. and Paramount Pass on Soderbergh's Moneyball

June 23, 2009
Source: LA Times


On Sunday we brought you the news that Sony had dumped Steven Soderbergh's Moneyball project just three days before it was set to start shooting. Sony's Co-Chairman Amy Pascal gave Soderbergh and Brad Pitt the weekend to try and shop it around to two other studios - Warner Brothers and Paramount. However, we now learn via the LA Times that both studios turned down the project, sharing "concerns about the film's high budget and limited commercial appeal." I'm amazed that a $50 million project with a star like Brad Pitt and director like Steven Soderbergh could encounter so many problems, but that's Hollywood for you.

The article also adds a bit more to the overall story. We know that Pascal got upset when the latest draft of the screenplay written by Steven Zaillian was turned in. But apparently she met with Soderbergh to see "if he was willing to revise his take, but the two couldn't agree on a vision for the film." They "also disagreed over Soderbergh's plan to shoot the film in a more improvisational documentary style." The other studios decided to pass as well because adult dramas like State of Play, Duplicity, and The International (coincidentally none of those are Warner Bros. / Paramount releases) haven't done well at the box office.

I agree that a baseball movie won't exactly bring in any crowds, even in the US. But there was something about this, especially in the hands of Steven Soderbergh, that just seemed like it would stand out. Maybe this means Soderbergh should just go back to the indie side of the industry and finance this on his own, because if he's going to do it with an "experimental" style, it'll probably be better suited to blow us away after its shot. Studios may not get the overall vision early on, and that's what it sounds like is happening here. Unfortunately, we don't know what will happen to this, as Moneyball will remain in Sony's hands.

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  • Shit.
  • xerxex
    They have a way of stomping on somebody's hopes, don't they?
  • Len
    sad truly sad. a movie i was really looking forward to because it was such a great book. any die-hard baseball fan must read it asap.
  • Julius
    "I'm amazed that a $50 million project with a star like Brad Pitt and director like Steven Soderbergh could encounter so many problems, but that's Hollywood for you." Actually, Hollywood is smart in this case. Brad Pitt takes a huge gross participation in nearly every film he does (to say nothing of Soderbergh) despite the fact that the vast majority of Pitt's films don't generate a considerable profit. A $50 million baseball movie, based on an obscure GM in Billy Beane, that has limited international appeal, and shot in an edgy, quasi-documentary style is far from a slam dunk commercial film. It's a real risk. Pretty clear, really. None of this is to say that it wouldn't make a good film. I loved the book. But that doesn't mean it needs to have a $50 million budget. So definitely makes sense that Sony, or any studio for that matter, might be hesitant to move forward.
  • janet
    I agree with #4. Pitt isn't the "sure thing" that he once was and I don't blame WB and Paramount for passing. They should cut some budget and drop Brad.
  • Monney
    Agree with #4 as well, don't see why people are continually amazed by studios passing up. We're still in a difficult economic climate. Studios are only going to put significant finances into a film that's going to reap its budget back and more, (through other ways like merchandising etc). Something broad and commercially orientated is more likely to be made than what seems to be an experimental film. A film based on baseball has limited appeal outside of America (perhaps Japan) and Soderbergh isn't a director known for consistent commercial successes. The Ocean's films are more on the combined talents of Clooney, Pitt and Damon and not necessarily the director. Just hearing the setup makes me inclined to think that despite what some may see as the "worthiness" of the project, financially I can't see it making much money. I mean how much did Che make at the box office?
  • xerxex
    Do you really not wanna see pitt in this?
  • it'll probably be better suited to blow us away after its shot.




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