Did Major League Baseball Ever Sign Off on Moneyball?
Everyone's got a theory as to how Sony boss Amy Pascal decided to pass suddenly on Moneyball, Steven Soderbergh and Brad Pitt's adaptation of the 2003 best-seller about Oaklnd A's general manager Billy Beane. But with Paramount and Warner Bros. both now having balked at picking the project up from turnaround, the only speculation left is whether or not Pascal really intends to let the $50-million-plus Moneyball drop before acceding to Soderbergh's more impressionistic vision -- and one interesting rumor making the rounds suggests she may have no other choice.
I mentioned here yesterday how even in the best of economic times, films about baseball -- especially a semi-verite one interweaving an ensemble of actual major leaguers opposite Pitt's hard-driving GM -- have never historically had the hottest prospects in the international market. The Pitt factor would help, but it's still a film about a brainy revolution for America's pastime. Which got one rogue commenter thinking on a few blogs over at Variety: What does Major League Baseball itself, which would have to license and approve the use of its franchise's logos, think of all this?
That's when it got interesting (and heavy on the [sic]):
Soderbergh's script was **not completely different than what the studio was aware of. Pascal is stuck because she did all this on Friday not realizing she didn't get MLB approval for the project EVER. without MLB approval they can't make the movie (yes, someone in bus affairs screwed up) MLB only approved Soderbergh's version of the script and not the May 1 script turned in by Zaillian. Pascal greenlit this movie at 70 milion, Soderbergh brough the budget down by 13 million (partly by reducing his fee, so he would be making less than what David Frankel was going to be made as well as getting Brad to reduce his fee by 9 million)
The rest of the response wanders off into conspiracy theories about Bryan Lourd playing damage control with Pitt's reputation, lest three studios pass on working with him (at a reduced fee, no less) in as many days, which contradicts the other rumors that Pitt used Pascal as a beard for getting out into a more mainstream project. And just for fun, have a listen to Soderbergh's prophetic Moneyball riff from a couple months ago, citing the "very nervous people at Sony."
Movieline's requests for comment from both the studio and Major League Baseball were not immediately returned, but you know the drill: Developing... and send tips if you've got 'em.
· Pascal back at the plate on Moneyball [BFDealmemo]