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‘Moneyball,’ film execs swing for the fences

Producers draw parallels between A's, New Line at Variety summit

“Moneyball” producers Rachael Horovitz and Michael De Luca saw connections between their upcoming film’s story and that of their former home at New Line.

“I saw a lot to identify with, but primarily Billy Beane’s struggle,” Horovitz said at the Variety/SVG Sports Entertainment Summit. “New Line was like the Oakland A’s. The day-to-day choices were always, “We don’t have a lot of money … so we have to think differently.”

De Luca compared the story of members of the underdog baseball team featured in the film getting second chances to film execs and creatives getting out of “movie jail” after a couple of flops.

“There are second acts in most walks of life, and Billy picked up on that,” De Luca said.

As with last year’s “The Social Network,” “Moneyball” has faced questions about the viability of its subject matter and the ability to reach wider audiences. The “Moneyball” producers believe the pic’s human story transcends sports and will help it succeed, as will with its authenticity.

De Luca called one sequence in the movie that blends archival and newly shot baseball footage in the Bennett Miller-directed film “masterful.”

“I don’t think there’s anything close to the authenticity of the sport that we’ve worked so hard to achieve in this movie,” said MLB programming and business affairs VP Elizabeth Scott, who led baseball’s advisory team that worked with the filmmakers.

De Luca said the film’s star is similarly invested.

Regarding Michael Lewis’ 2003 book, from which the pic is sourced, De Luca said, “Brad Pitt was obsessed with that book. He had every page flagged.”

Scott also noted that observers might be underselling the film’s global prospects, saying, “Our sport has great legs internationally,” particularly in Japan.

2011 VARIETY’S SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT SUMMIT

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