Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Bennett Miller|
|Story by||Stan Chervin|
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game|
by Michael Lewis
|Music by||Mychael Danna|
|Edited by||Christopher Tellefsen|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$110.2 million|
Moneyball is a 2011 American sports film directed by Bennett Miller and written by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. The film is based on Michael Lewis's 2003 nonfiction book of the same name, an account of the Oakland Athletics baseball team's 2002 season and their general manager Billy Beane's attempts to assemble a competitive team.
In the film, Beane (Brad Pitt) and assistant GM Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), faced with the franchise's limited budget for players, build a team of undervalued talent by taking a sophisticated sabermetric approach to scouting and analyzing players. Columbia Pictures bought the rights to Lewis's book in 2004.
Moneyball premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival and was released on September 23, 2011 to box office success and critical acclaim. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor for Pitt and Best Supporting Actor for Hill.
Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane is upset by his team's loss to the New York Yankees in the 2001 American League Division Series. With the impending departure of star players Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, and Jason Isringhausen to free agency, Beane needs to assemble a competitive team for 2002 with Oakland's limited budget.
During a visit to the Cleveland Indians, Beane meets Peter Brand, a young Yale economics graduate with radical ideas about how to assess player value. Beane tests Brand's theory by asking whether he would have drafted Beane out of high school; though scouts considered Beane hugely promising, his career in the major leagues was disappointing. Brand admits that, based on his method of assessing player value, he would not have drafted him until the ninth round. Impressed, Beane hires Brand as his assistant manager.
Rather than relying on scouts' experience and intuition, Brand uses sabermetrics, selecting players based on their on-base percentage (OBP). Brand and Beane hire undervalued players such as unorthodox submarine pitcher Chad Bradford, aging outfielder David Justice, and an injured catcher, Scott Hatteberg.
Oakland scouts are hostile toward the strategy, and Beane fires one, Grady Fuson, after he accuses him of destroying the team. Beane also faces opposition from Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the Athletics' manager. With tensions already high between them due to a contract dispute, Howe disregards Beane's and Brand's strategy and plays a lineup he prefers.
Early in the season, the Athletics fare poorly, leading critics to dismiss the new method as a failure. Brand argues their sample size is too small to conclude the method does not work, and Beane convinces the owner to stay the course. He trades away the lone traditional first baseman, Carlos Peña, to force Howe to use Hatteberg, threatening to make similar deals if Howe does not cooperate.
The Athletics win 19 consecutive games, tying the longest winning streak in American League history. Though Beane does not watch games, his young daughter persuades him to attend the next game, against the Kansas City Royals, when Oakland is leading 11-0 after the third inning. Beane arrives in the fourth inning, only to watch the team falter and allow the Royals to even the score. Thanks to a walk-off home run by Hatteberg, the Athletics win a record-breaking 20th consecutive win. Beane tells Brand he will not be satisfied until they have "changed the game" by winning the championship using their system.
The Athletics eventually clinch the 2002 American League West title but lose to the Minnesota Twins in the 2002 American League Division Series. Beane is contacted by the owner of the Boston Red Sox, who realizes that sabermetrics is the future of baseball. Beane declines an offer to become the Red Sox general manager, despite the $12.5 million salary, which would have made him the highest-paid general manager in history. He returns to Oakland. Two years later, the Red Sox win the 2004 World Series using the model the Athletics pioneered.
Stan Chervin developed the initial drafts of the screenplay after Columbia Pictures bought rights to Lewis's book in 2004. It was filmed in Los Angeles, California. Once Brad Pitt committed to the project in 2007, Chervin dropped out. Steve Zaillian was signed to write a second screenplay, and David Frankel was signed to direct.Steven Soderbergh was subsequently signed to replace Frankel.Demetri Martin was cast to portray the role of Paul DePodesta, Beane's top assistant. Former Athletics Scott Hatteberg and David Justice were slated to play themselves in the movie. When asked how the film would dramatize and make entertaining a book about statistics, Soderbergh said:
I think we have a way in, making it visual and making it funny. I want it to be really funny and entertaining, and I want you to not realize how much information is being thrown at you because you're having fun. We've found a couple of ideas on how to bust the form a bit, in order for all that information to reach you in a way that's a little oblique.
On June 19, 2009, days before filming was set to begin, Sony put the picture on hold. Soderbergh's plan for the film called for elements considered non-traditional for a sports movie, such as interviews with real-life players. Soderbergh was dismissed and ultimately replaced by Bennett Miller.Aaron Sorkin wrote a third version of the screenplay.
Miller hired Ken Medlock, a former minor league baseball player and actor who plays scout Grady Fuson, as a technical advisor. Medlock invited professional scout Artie Harris to lend Medlock credibility. Harris, himself a self-styled "old-fashioned scout", subsequently auditioned for and obtained a role in the film as a scout who typically disregards sabermetrics. Baseball figures, including scout Phil Pote and baseball coaches and managers George Vranau and Barry Moss, were cast in supporting roles.
With Martin no longer involved, Jonah Hill was cast to play DePodesta. However, feeling the character was becoming fictional, DePodesta requested his name not be used but continued to assist the filmmakers. Hill's role was transformed into a composite character, named Peter Brand.
Filming began in July 2010. Filming locations included Fenway Park, the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, Dodger Stadium and Blair Field, while studio shooting took place at Sony's Culver City studios. During principal photography scenes featuring Kathryn Morris as Beane's second wife were shot; none made it to the final cut.
While mostly accurate, the film alters history at points.
Moneyball premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2011 and was released theatrically on September 23, 2011, by Columbia Pictures. The film was also released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 10, 2012 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Moneyball grossed $75.6 million in the United States and Canada and $34.6 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $110.2 million, against a production budget of $50 million.
The film grossed $19.5 million from 2,993 theaters in its opening weekend, finishing second at the box office behind the 3D re-release of The Lion King. In its second weekend it grossed $12 million (a drop of only 38.3%), again finishing second.
Moneyball received critical acclaim, with Pitt's performance receiving strong praise. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an approval rating of 94% based on 244 reviews, with an average rating of 8/10. The site's critical consensus states, "Director Bennett Miller, along with Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, take a niche subject and turn it into a sharp, funny, and touching portrait worthy of baseball lore". On Metacritic, the film has a score of 87 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Richard Roeper gave Moneyball a grade of an "A", saying that the film was a "geek-stats book turned into a movie with a lot of heart". Former Green Bay Packers vice president Andrew Brandt stated that the film "persuasively exposed front office tension between competing scouting applications: the old school "eye-balling" of players and newer models of data-driven statistical analysis ... Moneyball--both the book and the movie--will become a time capsule for the business of sports".
The film appeared on the following critics' top ten lists for the best films of 2011:
|Rene Rodriguez||Miami Herald||1st|
|Lisa Kennedy||Denver Post||1st|
|Michael Phillips||Chicago Tribune||2nd|
|Satya Nagendra Padala||International Business Times||2nd|
|Ann Hornaday||The Washington Post||3rd|
|Elizabeth Weitzman||New York Daily News||3rd|
|Peter Travers||Rolling Stone||4th|
|David Fear||Time Out New York||4th|
|Joe Neumaier||New York Daily News||6th|
|Marshall Fine||Hollywood & Fine||6th|
|Betsy Sharkey||Los Angeles Times||7th|
|Robbie Collin||The Telegraph||8th|
|Lisa Schwarzbaum||Entertainment Weekly||8th|
|Dave McCoy||MSN Movies||8th|
|Kim Lorgan||MSN Movies||8th|
|Richard T. Jameson||MSN Movies||10th|
|Stephen Holden||The New York Times||10th|
|Karina Longworth||The Village Voice||10th|
Morris...played Brad Pitt's second wife in Sony's Moneyball, though her scenes were cut from the film.