Behind the scenes on Disney's 'Million Dollar Arm'

Inside Disney's 'Million Dollar Arm'


J.B. Bernstein, Agent
Mark Ciardi, Producer

The makers of "Million Dollar Arm," the forthcoming movie chronicling the unlikely bid by agent J.B. Bernstein to turn two young Indian men into professional baseball players, portrayed it as more of a universal human interest story than a sports-centric film.

The movie, set for release in May, chronicles Bernstein's efforts in India to stage a reality show in the search of baseball's version of Yao Ming in that country. The two winning players, Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh, were both drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009, with Singh still in their system as one of their top left-handed pitching prospects.

But rather than sell this as primarily an underdog baseball film, the producers intend to position "Million Dollar Arm" as more of a quirkier, inspirational story. A large part of the reasoning is financial, as American-made sports movies traditionally have been limited in their global audience appeal.

"Sports movies not easy. They're usually not what the studios are looking for, they're looking for big international hits with a lot of potential," said producer Mark Ciardi, speaking today at the CSE Sports Sponsorship Symposium. Ciardi's prior credits include "The Rookie," “Invincible," and "Miracle." "Sports are typically much more domestic, and limited in your [profit-and-loss] potential. And it certainly puts pressure on how much make those movies for.

"This is more of a double fish-out-of-water story, J.B. being in India, the boys being in America, with an inspirational twist. And because of that, we think there's a lot of international potential," Ciardi said.

"Million Dollar Arm," also features the debut of Jon Hamm in a starring movie role. Hamm, who plays Bernstein, has been in several supporting roles, including last year's comedy hit "Bridesmaids." But he has been selective in seeking a starring role as TV's "Mad Men" begins to wind down its run. Hamm, however, actively sought out Ciardi and Bernstein to be part of this project.

"The fact he chose this project is pretty cool," said Bernstein, who compared Hamm's emerging into a starring film role to George Clooney's transition after "ER." "This gives him an opportunity to a show a very different, non-Don Draper kind of side to him."

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Related Topics:

India, Baseball, Pittsburgh Pirates

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