Soderbergh's Crappy Script Doomed The 'Moneyball' Movie


Turns out, it’s not so easy writing a good script based on a book about a baseball team that uses numbers to its advantage.

We’re not saying it couldn’t be done, but apparently filmmaker Steven Soderbergh wasn’t up to the task, and that’s why you’re not going to be seeing a film version of Michael Lewis’ famous book anytime soon (last week the news came out that the project had been killed).

The blog Script Shadow (via Eric Jackson)got a hold of a copy, and found very little redeeming in it. He has segment from the script (it appears he had the full script up at one point, but has had to take it down), but here’s the ultimate verdict:

The draft was an Exposition Empire, with characters telling us all sorts of things we needed to know without a hint of subtlety. I kept thinking I was at a museum listening to a tour guide, “Baseball is a game of numbers. Billy has discovered that. He will now try to apply it to his team.” All the fun is gone here.

But the biggest faux-pas is the handling of the all-important “on-base percentage” stat. This is what the A’s figured out that no one else did – the hidden statistic which is the key to their success. It’s what allows them to compete with half the salary of all the other teams. This is the movie. Yet here it’s treated like an afterthought. In fact, I couldn’t even tell you what the A’s secret to success was in Soderbergh’s draft. It’s implied that there’s a spreadsheet involved but the explanation stops there. A spreadsheet of never-explained numbers? That’s how the team wins? That’s your hook for the movie?

Look, Soderbergh is the kind of director that likes to find his movies in the editing room. Shoot a bunch of stuff, see what sticks. If something doesn’t connect logically , throw some voiceover in there and add a little score. That seems to be his plan of attack with Moneyball. I don’t know what the final movie would look like so I couldn’t definitively tell you if he would of salvaged this, but I do know he turned a solid script into an incomprehensible mess. And that’s why his movie was shut down.

It’s too bad this subject is so vexing, and we’re sure it bodes ill for narrative movies based on Freakonomics or Blink or The Long Tail.

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