’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

Monday is the deadline to register for Pennsylvania…

If residents want to vote in the May primary, which includes a vote for a new City Council member, today is the deadline to register.

National

Miss America thinks school should reconsider discipline of…

A Pa. student was suspended for asking Miss America to prom.

Local

Aria Health Torresdale workers caught selling prescription drugs

Two Aria Health at Torresdale employees were fired amid accusations they sold prescription drugs out of the Northeast Philadelphia campus.

National

Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter died Sunday from prostate cancer…

Former U.S. professional boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who spent 19 years in prison for murder and then was released after it was determined he did not get a fair trial,…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

Music

Loop are, er, um, back in the loop

Experimental noise rock band Loop's three mid-1980s to early-1990s albums, “Heavens End,” “Fade Out” and “A Gilded Eternity,” were mercifully reissued.

NHL

Ray Emery steps up in Flyers’ Game 2…

Sure, he allowed two goals in the Rangers’ first four shots Sunday afternoon, but it’s about how you start, not how you finish.

NHL

Flyers come from behind, even series with Rangers

The Flyers overcame a two-goal deficit to get a much-needed win at Madison Square Garden Sunday.

MLB

Phillies get set for four against the Dodgers

The Phillies will face tough starting pitching out west against the Dodgers this week.

MLB

Phillies notebook: Cole Hamels returns this week

The Phillies should receive a big boost when Cole Hamels returns during the Dodgers series.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.