Thursday, July 02, 2009

The death of Moneyball

As Christopher Hampton proved at the Screenwriters' Festival event a couple of weeks back, Hollywood near-miss stories are strangely fascinating.

The demise of Moneyball, despite the commitment of Brad Pitt, is a case in point. Tough for everyone involved, of course, and it's notable how many times the script appears to have been yanked about. IMDB lists four writers (working on adapting a book by Michael Lewis) and Michael Cielpy in The New York Times says that director Steven Soderbergh also wrote a script.

Cielpy reckons the film being pulled just days before shooting was due to start, could signify a new caution among the studios.
The last-minute demise of a high-profile film project, especially one starring an A-list star like Mr. Pitt, is a rare spectacle in Hollywood — one that is painful, expensive and damaging to all involved. It also happened with “Used Guys,” a high-priced comedy at 20th Century Fox in 2006.

But such disasters — this one is estimated to have cost Sony $10 million in development and preproduction costs — may become more common as an increasingly nervous film business comes to terms with a sharp decline in home video revenue, the diminishing power of even the most popular stars to muscle their projects into production and new uncertainty over complicated bets like “Moneyball.”
Blogging writer Ken Levine, however, reckons the project was doomed from the start.

Update (10.07.2009): Aaron Sorkin to the rescue?

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