Warner Bros. and Paramount Pass on Soderbergh's Moneyball
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.