Welcome to “Playback,” a new movie-centric podcast at Variety that will bring you exclusive conversations with the talents behind many of today’s hottest films.
In our pilot episode, Variety Deputy Awards and Features Editor Jenelle Riley and I springboard from our mid-year column spotlighting deserving Oscar contenders from the first half of 2016 into a discussion about what films and performances we hope can survive the oncoming awards season crush, where studios bottleneck their prestige movies with an eye on nabbing gold.
Meanwhile, Seth Rogen (22:40) drops by the Variety studio to discuss his raunchy new animated comedy “Sausage Party.” Following screenings at the South by Southwest film festival and Comic-Con, it’s primed for release Aug. 12 and, along with “This is the End” and TV’s “Preacher,” it further reveals Rogen and creative partner Evan Goldberg’s interesting dissection of theology in their work.
Listen to this week’s episode of “Playback” below. New episodes air every Thursday.
“It was always a part of our lives and as we got older we really became fascinated with analyzing it,” Rogen says. “You want to make movies about what you’re thinking about. What’s shocking, though, is how few other people seem to make movies about it. Smarter people should be doing this! This is a plea to more intelligent filmmakers. Chris Nolan should be making theological movies. He’s wasting his time with time travel and s—!”
Two years after the debacle around “The Interview,” which became a bit of a political football when Sony became the target of a major hack, Rogen is happy with the Culver City studio as a home because he and Goldberg have figured out how to keep their fiscal risk in check, even while their remain audacious with some of their creative choices. Films like “This is the End” and “Pineapple Express” have been modestly budgeted around $30 million and turned nice profits as a result.
“We try to leave as little in the hands of the studio as possible, and I say that with as much love for my friends at the studio,” Rogen says. “We try to package everything — actors, director, producers, cast — and then we try to give it a budget that is incredibly reasonable. We try to do it for a budget, basically, that will make it so they leave us alone and let us do what we want. What we learned while we were making ‘The Green Hornet’ is never be their biggest problem.”
Speaking of Sony, the studio’s “Ghostbusters” remake was riddled with pre-release strife from fans up in arms at the fact that a beloved genre property had been remade with an all-female cast. Misogyny isn’t something that’s shocking to Rogen, but is fandom itself out of control? Do fans cling to their nostalgia too much, or does the internet just amplify that kind of outrage?
“I don’t know if fandom is out of control because I can’t definitively tell you if there’s a tangible effect to it,” Rogen says. “There seems, sometimes, to be movies that all these fans are up in arms about and they do really, really, really well, and then there’s other movies that it seems like people are going to champion and that core group really likes, and they f—ing eat shit. So I doubt the tangibility of it, always.”
“Playback” will broadcast every Thursday beginning Sept. 8.
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