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]


  • Speedy says:

    Holy crap, I cannot in a million years imagine that "someone in bus affairs screwed up." That's Clearance 101. There has got to have been some other reason.

  • Inhaler says:

    I could care less about this movie, but Brad sure is looking good.

  • JudgeFudge says:

    Okay: Here's the solution. Pass this off to UA, who will buy and produce the project for $70 (including rights from the MLB). Drop Soderbergh and Pitt, add Bryan Singer and Tom Cruise. Swawp Demetri Martin for Zach Galifinakis, release it Christmas 2010. Bam! Instant hit. You got some charm, you got some laughs, you got Singer and Cruise back together - they made us care about a failed Hilter assasination attempt, they'll make us care about baseball stats.

  • SarahN says:

    Sony never received MLB approval. Soderbergh courted MLB throughout the process and they signed off on his draft of the script. I don't know why everyone is ragging on him and the draft...it wasn't that different than versions the studio had been seeing for weeks.
    This was a difficult film to schedule..anyone who knows how Soderbergh works knows he's on time and under budget. He never would have thrown the production into a tailspin with a draft 3 days before shooting that was wildly different.
    Shooting was to begin in Phoenix where they had rented the Phoenix Municipal Stadium..many of the real ball players were to be in the film..that took precise scheduling since some of them are still playing professionally..(shooting during the all star break) also shooting in the Oakland A's home stadium had to be worked around their home schedule. This Amy Pascal excuse is BS. She's now stuck with 10 million in expenses and no movie. How can she explain that away? she made a **mistake and should try and work it out.