Columbia Drops the Ball on Moneyball

It seems even an Academy Award winning director with bankable stars attached can still have trouble getting films made if doesn’t fit the studio’s conventional idea of what film is.

Last week, Amy Pascal of Columbia Pictures read Soderbergh’s rewrite of Steven Zailian’s script and found it drastically altered from the early drafts that she had liked. Afterwards she placed the picture into “limited turnaround,” giving the filmmaker the chance to set it up at another studio, with Warner Bros. and Paramount the prime targets.

The weekend was spent looking for interest from another studio.

If a new financier doesn’t emerge by today, Columbia will look at options that include replacing Soderbergh, while trying to keep Pitt or delaying the film until Pascal and the filmmaker find themselves in agreement on the script or pulling the plug entirely.

This is a somewhat ironic move for Columbia as Pitt dropped out of State of Play just before production for the same reason. Either way, it is certainly unusual to see a studio back out of a film in which a major star like Pitt is firmly committed.

Apparently, even though the film is approved by Major League Baseball, the script does not follow the traditional narrative structure of most sports flicks.

Moneyball is based on the bestselling Michael Lewis book about Billy Beane (Pitt), the former player who resurfaced as the Oakland A’s general manager and found success fielding competitive teams for low cost.

Aside from Pitt and Demetri Martin and a few others, Soderbergh planned on using real ballplayers, including former A’s Scott Hatteberg and David Justice. He has also already shot interviews with ballplayers like Beane’s former Mets teammates Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson and Darryl Strawberry. Soderberghs’ plan was to have these interview interspersed throughout the film.

While Soderbergh is obviously confident his take will work visually, Columbia and Pascal had their doubts on the unconventional idea, as the budget is upwards of $50 million.

Source: Variety

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