Moneyball Strikes Out At Columbia Pictures
Well, so much for getting a thoroughly unique baseball movie. Over the last several months, news has gotten around that Steven Soderbergh's Moneyball, based on the statistic heavy book of the same name, would be far from the conventional sports movie. Considering that the material it’s based on isn’t exactly the conventional sports story, this makes sense (the book recounted a coach’s new wave strategy of building a baseball team based on stats rather than star power). Soderbergh’s budget bloated as he hired Brad Pitt and revealed that the part of the narrator would be rendered completely in animation. Many believed that while the concept was intriguing and unique, the flick would likely work only for a niche audience, which doesn’t exactly justify a big budget.
So it comes as less than a surprise that Sony and Columbia Pictures have decided to pull the plug on Soderbergh’s baseball baby. Variety reported today that Columbia head Amy Pascal had reviewed the script and felt that it wasn’t exactly what she had originally gotten herself into, as Soderbergh recently revised writer Steven Zaillian’s original draft.
While the future for Moneyball looks grim, Columbia has given Soderbergh the chance to option the movie to a different studio, with Warner Bros. and Paramount said to be the top choices.
In such hard times, it’s hard to say if any studio is going to be willing to take a risk on a baseball movie with a $50 million budget. Earlier this year, Sugar was well received by critics and audiences alike but hardly made it out of the art house. Before that, the last two baseball-centric movies to hit theaters were probably The Benchwarmers and Fever Pitch, mainstream comedies that failed to break more than $50 million gross worldwide.
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