In a jaw-dropping move that will be discussed for years, Sony Pictures had Amy Pascal has put the Steven Soderbergh’s baseball drama “Moneyball” starring Brad Pitt into limited turnaround. This means the studio has halted production until Soderbergh can find another studio to come on board to finance the film. The most glaring part about this report is that the film was scheduled to start shooting on Monday.
According to Variety, both Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros., both studios that have long relationships with Pitt and Soderbergh, are prime targets to pick up the film. If another financier does not come onboard to pay the reported $50 million price tag, Sony will re-examine their options which could include drastic moves such as replacing Soderbergh — which would no doubt cause Pitt to jettison — delaying until all parties agree on a creative course of action or scuttling the film entirely. The picture had only 96 hours before it was to begin shooting.
Considering Pitt is coming off the biggest U.S. hit of his career with “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” why the sudden change of heart? The trade reports the latest draft from screenwriter Steve Zaillian and Soderbergh was markedly different than what Pascal originally approved and gave her pause. Soderbergh has now structured the film untraditionally and was planning on interspersing interviews with former Major League Baseball players such as Lenny Dykstra and Daryl Strawberry in a style similar to Warren Beatty’s “Reds.” Soderbergh has played with narrative structure all through his career, most recently with “The Girlfriend Experience.”
“Moneyball” is based on the bestselling novel by Michael Lewis that tells the true story of Billy Beane, a former up and coming MLB player who bombed in the league, but resurrected his career in the front office. Beane used statistics and analytics to turn the Oakland A’s into a playoff team using lower salary players while bigger market teams such as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox spent through the roof. MLB was cooperating and had approved the script.
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