’50/50′: Seth Rogen on how to sell a cancer comedy

Rogen takes a break on the set of "50/50."

Seth Rogen knew that with “50/50,” he had an important and entertaining story to tell — his friend (and screenwriter) Will Reiser’s battle with a cancer diagnosis at the age of 25. But he also knew it was going to be a tough sell. So here’s how Rogen, who produced the film and co-stars in it with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, went about bringing a “cancer comedy” to theaters.

Don’t fear the C-word.

“The first decision you have to make is to not shy away from what the movie’s about. I think you have to let people know it’s about cancer and then let them know that it’s not f—ing miserable to watch, and that was kind of our entire goal with the marketing, was to really represent what the movie is and really let them know that it’s honest and what it’s about and that it’s going to be a very truthful experience but at the same time it’s funny and it’s ultimately an enjoyable experience.”

But don’t put the C-word in the title.

“We’re not stupid. We know a title like ‘I’m with Cancer’ is repellent to some people. I liked it, but something you have to acknowledge being a filmmaker who wants people to see his movies is that what you like and what you know other people are going to like are two vastly different things at times. We thought it was stupid to go through great lengths to make a movie that was really accessible and enjoyable and crowd-pleasing and then give it a title that would potentially alienate most of the people who wanted to go see it.”

Find a new title — from wherever you can.

“It’s hard to think of a f—ing title. We literally had a box on set that crew members put suggestions in. We offered, like, thousands of dollars if you could think of a title. And I don’t think ‘50/50’ was any of those titles. I don’t know who came up with it ultimately. No one got the prize money. One guy on the crew put in like 50 names, and so I think we ended up giving him a couple hundred bucks. ‘50/50’ is a fine title, you know, I get it. It’s a title that doesn’t repel you from the movie, which for a movie like this is huge.”

Aim for as large an audience as possible.

“I’ve got to be honest, I’m not the kind of guy that goes and sees little independent movies. It’s just not the types of movies I go see. I go see big commercial movies, generally speaking. I honestly don’t think a movie has to be built for a small audience in order to be creatively worthwhile. I think that you should be able to take an idea and make it in a way that everyone understands. To me, that’s what art is — taking a feeling and articulating it to people, you know?”

As for the movie itself, keep it real.

“We really knew that we couldn’t do a bulls— version of the movie. We knew ultimately we had to make it hard to criticize the overall feeling of the movie, which we wanted to be like an honest one, you know? There was a scene where we’re coffin shopping that Will wrote into the first draft, which was funny, but we were like, ‘We never go f—ing coffin shopping. That’s insane.’”

And lastly, know the marketplace and hope for the best.

“I think that people go to movies about much more graphically horrific things than this — and those movies aren’t funny — so I think people are open to it, honestly. I would go to this movie, and again I don’t like little boring independent movies.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.