If "Moneyball’s" second public screening at the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday afternoon is any indication of the interest in this movie, then Sony shouldn’t be too concerned about its box office prospects. The line to get into the 1,200-seat Elgin Theater stretched for a full city block, with ticket-holding moviegoers waiting in line for more than an hour to be sure they’d secure a decent seat for the Brad Pitt vehicle.
And “Moneyball” is all about Brad Pitt. From the Sony one-sheet to practically every scene in the film, the 47-year-old actor dominates the screen. And while you get a couple of glimpses of Pitt’s daughter, played by 13-year-old Kerris Dorsey, and one scene with Robin Wright Penn who plays his ex-wife, this film is primarily a two-hander with Jonah Hill playing the straight man to Pitt’s off-center role of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane. (Hills plays Beane’s statistician, Peter Brand.) In fact, director Bennett Miller axed an entire role from the movie -- that of Kathryn Morris ("Cold Case") as Beane's second ex-wife, Tara Beane. The film doesn't seem to suffer from the lack of female parts -- you don't really notice it until you're playing it over again in your head as you leave the theater.
The other surprising attribute of the film is just how chaste it is. Rated PG-13 for some strong language, the movie features no sex or drugs, and very little of anything else that would keep younger audiences out of the film, except a few curse words and a lack of action sequences.
However, the female-dominated crowd seemed just as engaged in the two-hour film as the men. So while Sony’s two biggest marketing challenges remain how to appeal to women and non-baseball fans with a movie that is solely about baseball, choices and ambition, the crowd at the Toronto Film Festival didn’t seem to have any problems with either constraint.
The movie opens Sept. 23 and will be targeting the adult audience, while teenagers flock to Taylor Lautner’s “Abduction” and families steer toward “Dolphin Tale.” Whether it can come out on top remains to be seen, but with Brad Pitt’s star power clearly on display, it has a good chance of it.
The line monitor at the second screening today probably put it best: “Enjoy the show. Or more specifically, enjoy Brad.”
-- Nicole Sperling
Photo: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt at the Toronto International Film Festival. Credit: Evan Agostini/AP