Is Moneyball The Most Important Movie Project Of All Time?

By Gabe Delahaye / July 10, 2009

So, there is more news today about Steven Soderbergh and Brad Pitt’s beleaguered project, Moneyball, based on the book by Michael Lewis. After being tabled by Columbia Pictures just days before the film was supposed to start shooting, due to a supposedly unacceptable script rewrite from Soderbergh, he and Brad Pitt were allowed to shop the project around to other studios, all of whom passed. But now, Soderbergh has walked away from the project, and Columbia Pictures has called in Aaron Sorkin to take another shot at the script and see if they can’t get something that everyone is happy with, and find another director, and turn this into a movie.

My only question is: who cares?

Don’t get me wrong. I like Steven Soderbergh, and I like Brad Pitt, and I like Aaron Sorkin. They’re all really talented people. And although I haven’t actually read Moneyball, it’s on my bookshelf so I can always point at it and tell people that I have read Moneyball if I feel like it, and maybe one day I’ll even read Moneyball. In any case, it’s supposed to be very good too. And while the subject of baseball statistics might not seem particularly cinematic, I am sure these smart people can Tim Gunn*, designers. Or maybe not. Maybe the reason that the project was tabled in the first place was because in the end it turns out that baseball statistics is just as bad of a subject for a movie as it sounds. In either case, even in a best case scenario, we wouldn’t know for at least a year. Because the movie doesn’t exist.

And yet, regardless of all of these factors, I’ve heard more about this movie’s development than about almost any other movie, ever. Every step of the process has been carefully and thoroughly documented, well outside of the industry press. It has been all over the New York Times. It is on all the blogz. Am I missing something?

What is at stake here?

Perhaps the reason that people seem so concerned with the seemingly quotidian business transactions of Moneyball‘s pre-production, which seem on the surface to be relatively routine–don’t movies get scrapped all the time? SMOKE JUMPERS?–is because, in fact, the very fate of humanity is entwined with the fate of this project. Perhaps this is the movie that David Foster Wallace (R.I.P.) envisioned, a film cartridge so entertaining to viewers that “they become lifeless, losing all interest in anything other than endless viewings of the film.”

And maybe it’s just a fucking movie about baseball statistics that may or may not ever get made so what.

*Make it work.