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Meanwhile, films such as this summer’s story-driven, effects-free “The Help” — which cost $25 million and has so far earned $139 million — and 2009’s surprise hit “The Blind Side” ($29 million budget; $229 million box office) suggest the wisdom of a more frugal, get-on-base, Beane-like approach.

In a way, so does “Moneyball” itself. Originally optioned in 2003, the story went through a series of rewrites before director Steven Soderbergh joined the project. Just days before shooting was set to commence in 2009, however, Sony pulled the plug on the film — reportedly because Mr. Soderbergh’s vision included a wonkish exploration of baseball math, documentary-style interviews and a total price tag of $57 million.

By contrast, the Bennett Miller-directed version of “Moneyball” now in theaters tells a far more conventional underdog story, with Mr. Beane a sympathetic single father on the brink of losing his job, leading the downtrodden A’s against long financial odds and conventional baseball thinking.

Better yet, the revamped film only cost a reported $50 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.