Moneyball movie won’t go into production

Look, we’re not selling jeans here, and if the suits in the studio have their way, we’re not going to be selling tickets to the film adaptation of “Moneyball” either:

Just days away from the start of shooting, Columbia has taken Steven Soderbergh’s baseball drama “Moneyball” starring Brad Pitt off the field.

Pulling the plug this close to production is extremely rare for studios but sources said Columbia’s president of production Amy Pascal wasn’t comfortable with the script, which had changed considerably since the movie was greenlit.

The decision, which was made Friday, mystified many since the picture was crewed up and scheduled to start shooting this week, with some wondering how issues with the script could give a studio cold feet so late in the game.

The only thing I can think is that Soderbergh was unsuccessful in convincing the producers that Jeremy Brown’s nude scenes were artistically justified.

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  1. J.W. said...

    I’m amazed this movie was ever planned in the first place, frankly. Where’s the plot? Where’s the drama? It was a great read but I don’t think anyone was able to imagine how it would work as a movie. My question in a situation like this is, do Pitt and Demetri Martin and all the other actors and crew members get paid? Do they receive some kind of compensation? All those folks have pretty strong unions, as I understand it, so I’m sure they’re going to get something. That said, the studio is probably losing a fair(ish) amount of coinage by simply pulling the plug. Those must have been some seriously whacky script alterations.

  2. Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

    I think it’s all well and good that this movie got killed because there are already too many people that claim to have read it and don’t get the point. The movie would have obviously been written for the BusinessWeek-excerpts crowd.

  3. ElBonte said...

    “Greenlit”?  I might’ve been able to handle “greenlighted” but “greenlit”?  Really?

    But really, this is probably for the best.  The book was great but I don’t have any clue how it could’ve been made into a halfway decent movie while still resembling the book.

    How great would it have been if the movie had gone forward and they had been able to convince Joe Morgan to do a cameo?

  4. Craig Calcaterra said...

    See, I could see it as a movie, as long as it wasn’t some hyper-serious or hyper-faithful adaptation.  “Barbarians at the Gate” was made into pretty entertaining HBO movie, and it’s not like there was a ton of traditional drama there.  More surreally-speaking, movies like “Adaptation” show what can happen when you totally blow up your source material and decide to have fun with it.

    Not saying that “Moneyball” would lend itself to something so radical, but if you start with a smart guy doing things slightly different in a conservative industry, with no real high emotional stakes to which you have to be careful of honoring, you could go absolutely crazy with this thing.

  5. Steve said...

    I guess they weren’t happy with the ending.  Where the small market team of no-names who continually are in the post season hunt, but continually fall short finally make it the big game and fail to draw a single walk.

  6. Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

    Where the small market team of no-names who continually are in the post season hunt, but continually fall short finally make it the big game and fail to draw a single walk.

    [T]here are already too many people that claim to have read it and don’t get the point

    Wow. That didn’t take long.

  7. Slugger O'Toole said...

    As a film industry worker, I was surprised this thing got this far and even more surprised that they stopped it now. It may be a best seller and Pitt and Soderbergh might have signed on, but this still is a tough film to sell to the masses and studios just don’t go for niche market films.

    Still, the film isn’t quite dead. It is in turnaround, which means that another studio could buy it off Columbia. That is pretty rare, and given that they are so close to shooting, the timeframe to make that happen is very small, but it is possible.If nothing happens in two weeks or so, I’d say this will never be a movie. The names attached make it more likely to find another backer than many other projects, but the outlook is still grim.

    I hope it gets made, I would love to see how Soderbergh wraps the conceptual ideas of Beane and co into a narrative film.

  8. Aaron Moreno said...

    What I’ve heard about the project, meaning what headlines I saw this morning, the script has been shot to hell and back, and Soderbergh was going off the rails conceptually. Something about an animated Bill James explaining Win Shares, I guess.

    Wooden, it was that Jeremy Brown was fat, right? Like, thighs-could-start-a-fire fat?

  9. Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

    Aarom – See for yourself about Jeremy Brown. Not sure if they could start a fire, but I wouldn’t want to be the ump if the pregame spread had bean burritos.

    Steve – OK, but I do have to wonder if you got upset when that punk Daniel LaRusso got lucky and beat Johnny Lawrence wink

  10. Slugger O'Toole said...

    There is a good look at the problems facing this film here:

    I think this guy hits in on the head when he points out
    “I am 98% sure that the simplified line being floated out there that Amy Pascal was either asserting herself or just couldn’t find it in her heart to back the script changes is not the full story.

    he goes on to point out-

    “Sony eats $15 million to $20 million on the movie if they shut it down. It will never come back to life, most likely, but if it does, not a dollar they spent aside from the book buy will go towards the film itself. If the film did just $160m worldwide, that’s $88 million in rentals against $58m in production and, say, $80 million in marketing. A $50 million shortfall that should more than be made up by DVD and other post-theatricals. But it’s really a $30 million shortfall from where they are today, so the choice to put the movie into “limited turnaround” is a choice to lose money on a project that is all but guaranteed to make money at this budget price.”

    Alot of people don’t realize just how unprofessional the film industry really is in terms of analysis these decisions. The fear of looking bad most often wins out over the more financially sound decision-making. Only in this world is a $100M+ investment seen as less of a risk than a $50M investment. It is just really ironic that it is happening with a film adaption of this particular book. Market inefficiencies anyone?

  11. APBA Guy said...

    Fascinating stuff. Us NorCal guys get all worked up whenever a film promises to come up here and glorify one of our own. Then the SoCal guys go and ruin it for us by cancelling the filming, or something. Guess we’ll have to go backdate some tech stock options instead.

  12. lar said...

    One of the only good things about being (originally) from Central California was not having to define myself as either “NorCal” or “SoCal”…

    Oh, and not saying “hella”… I’m pretty grateful for not being in a culture that loved to use that word…

  13. lar said...

    Hey man, let me latch on to the few silver linings that I can find. There’s not much, you know. Not much at all.

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