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Back in 2009 it was Steven Soderbergh who had been hired to direct an adaptation of Michael Lewis' Moneyball. Then, less than 20 days before the start of production, the movie was put on hold, elements were called into question (he wanted to feature real players, have real interviews, etc) and, eventually, he was removed from the project. The movie of course, went on to be made with Bennett Miller and is considered by many to be one of the best films of the year. Now, a little over two years later, it would seem that Soderbergh is reliving his Moneyball experience, only with a different project.
According to The Playlist, Soderbergh met with executives at Warner Bros. this evening and now will no longer be the director behind the film version of the 1960s television series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. According to the report, the director and the studio could see eye-to-eye on the budget or the casting, which led to the filmmaker's departure. The site says that the studio gave Soderbergh only $60 million to make the international spy thriller that was expected to be the first of a trilogy. In recent weeks the film has been having casting issues, with Bradley Cooper entering talks and then departing, and then names like Channing Tatum and Joel Edgerton floated to the press.
But the casting process has been even more complicated than that. Soderbergh apparently told WB that his top two choices for the movie were Michael Fassbender and Joel Kinnaman, both of whom ended up signing on for two other projects set up at the studio. Then Johnny Depp expressed interest in the script back when The Lone Ranger was on ice, but that option fell through when producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney were able to work out a deal for that movie. Matt Damon was also mentioned as a possibility, the actor also expressing interest in the script and having worked with Soderbergh on multiple other projects, but the actor is currently developing his own directorial outing and Soderbergh was unwilling to push back U.N.C.L.E.
The future for the project is now up in the air. Warner Bros. might have to start from scratch on the project, as The Playlist says that the script was custom fit for Soderbergh. As for the filmmaker, who famously doesn't like to sit on his hands for too long, he is now planning another film that can start up in March, the time that The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was meant to be shooting. The site says that we can expect official word fairly soon, and we'll be sure to update with more information as it becomes available.