So how exactly does a major studio pull the plug on a $58 million Brad Pitt flick only days before it begins shooting and after you’ve already sunk $10 million into pre-production? Well, according to Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal, quite easily.
In a first on-the-record interview about Moneyball, which was to have starred Pitt as legendary Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, Pascal says everything was moving along just fine until the movie’s Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh delivered a script that had the studio up in arms.
"I’ve wanted to work with Steven forever, because he’s simply a great filmmaker," Pascal tells The L.A. Times. "But the draft he turned in wasn’t at all what we’d signed up for. He wanted to make a dramatic reenactment of events with real people playing themselves. I’d still work with Steven in a minute, but in terms of this project, he wanted to do the film in a different way than we did."
According to Pascal, Soderbergh had gone so hog-wild with changes to the original script by screenwriter Steve Zaillian — he reportedly removed or rewrote all scenes that did not happen in real life — they had no other choice but to shelve the picture until they either found a new director, which would also likely mean the loss of Pitt.
"Steven wanted to tell the story through these interviews with the real people, as they commented on Beane," Pascal explains. "But there are lots of ways to tell a true story. We were just more comfortable with what we thought was a wonderful draft from Steve Zaillian."
Sony offered Soderbergh the opportunity to take the film to another studio with his script, but so far no fish are biting on that line. So for now, Moneyball remains at Sony.
"We love this movie, we always have and we still want to make it," says Pascal. "It’s a completely innovative way to tell a baseball story. It’s about wanting to believe in magic, which is what baseball is all about."