Film and baseball fans have been following the saga of "Moneyball," based author Michael Lewis' book, for years now. The project has been started and stopped so many times it's hard to believe reports that it's actually going to begin shooting in July.
But Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill are poised to get to work this summer, with director Bennet Miller behind the camera with a script from Aaron Sorkin, reported Deadline Hollywood. This is all happening apparently because Pitt and others agreed to lower their upfront payday, bringing the film's budget south of $50 million.
"Moneyball" follows Oakland A's manager Billy Beane and his team as they prepare for the 2002 baseball draft. Being from a so-called "small market," the cash-strapped team starts every season at an economic disadvantage to powerhouses like the Yankees and Red Sox, and so Beane and his stat geeks sift through mountains of data trying to find inefficiencies in the market for baseball talent.
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The A's enjoyed great success relative to their payroll for many years, though they fell short of the game's ultimate prize, a World Series championship.
As much as we love the book, "Moneyball" is, on the surface, a terribly wonky, inside-baseball (sorry) look at the national pastime. And the subtext would sound even less appealing to test audiences: it's about economics, resource allocation and intellectual revolution.
Steven Soderberg tried in vain to get his vision of the book brought to the big screen, but when Sony realized that he wanted to make a docu-drama, they more or less ran screaming.
The eagerness to make this deal was no doubt spurred on by the success of "The Blind Side," based on another book from Lewis, which in addition to winning Sandra Bullock an Oscar, took in more than $250 million domestically. In the dopey, if-then, group-think world of Hollywood, they no doubt figure "Moneyball" will enjoy similar success because of its shared origins.
We sure hope so, but we strongly doubt it.