After a false start that resulted in original director Steven Soderbergh leaving the project, this adaptation of Michael Lewis' best-selling baseball book chronicling the sabermetric approach to the game pioneered by Oakland A's GM Billy Beane went forward with Bennett Miller at the helm. Brad Pitt plays Beane, while Jonah Hill makes his dramatic debut as scouter Peter Brand, a character reportedly based on real-life scout Paul DePodesta.
He's the very model of a modern major league general manager.
One of the perils that comes with this gig is that there are times where I walk into a theater armed with too much knowledge about what went down behind-the-scenes on the movie I'm about to see. Take Moneyball, for instance. This adaptation of Michael Lewis' best-selling baseball book -- which covered a season in the life (specifically the 2002 season) of the Oakland A's and their eccentric, wily GM Billy Beane -- has been on my radar since 2008, when one of my favorite directors, Steven Soderbergh, came onboard to shepherd the project to the big screen. As is often the case with Soderbergh, he had developed a fascinating angle he intended to bring to the proceedings, embellishing the central narrative with documentary segments featuring real-life ballplayers and casting actual members of that 2002 A's squad (including David Justice and Scott Hatteberg) as themselves in the dramatic scenes. This approach excited me, but unnerved the studio, which shut down the film just as shooting was going to start in earnest. Soderbergh quickly departed the project and Capote director Bennett Miller was eventually recruited to replace him.
After checking out the movie version of Moneyball earlier this week, we were so inspired by Oakland A's GM Billy Beane's innovative use of "sabermetrics" in building his record-setting 2002 team, we wanted to apply the same close statistical analysis to how the film that's opening in theaters on Friday came together following a few false starts. Originally set to be directed by The Devil Wears Prada's David Frankel, Steven Soderbergh took over the director's chair in 2008 and cast Demetri Martin opposite Brad Pitt's Beane. The following year, Sony Pictures halted production just before the cameras were set to roll and shuffled the deck another time, replacing Soderbergh with Bennett Miller, Martin with Jonah Hill and bringing in screenwriter Aaron Sorkin to punch up a script credited to Steve Zaillian and Stan Chervin. How will these various moves impact the movie's box-office performance? Let's check the stats.