July 1, 2009

‘Moneyball’ strikeout benches risky pics

Doubts that Hollywood can continue to deliver quirky, high-quality films have been raised with the cancellation of Moneyball, analysts say.

Sony Pictures pulled the plug last week on the $57 million Steven Soderbergh movie about baseball starring Brad Pitt after sinking $10 million into preproduction costs, exposing studio jitters about tanking DVD revenues and the dwindling power of star actors to drive projects in economic hard times, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

They're much more careful about doing a movie just because a star wants to do it, entertainment lawyer Eric Weissmann told the newspaper, fondly recalling a time when Warner Brothers made a film based on a Henrik Ibsen play mainly because actor Steve McQueen wanted to do it.

Moneyball's fate means it's likely that tricky movies such as George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck or Pitt's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button will become harder to make, the newspaper said.

More than a dozen unnamed sources told the Times Sony canceled Moneyball when it was confronted by plans for something artier and more artistically complex than it had signed on for.

Studio executives declined to comment to the Times.