After he played the lead in the beloved 2007 comedy “Knocked Up” and cowrote the equally popular “Superbad” with his childhood friend, Evan Goldberg, in the same year, Seth Rogen was suddenly one of Hollywood’s newest young stars.
And like any comic-book-obsessed 20-something, he did the next logical thing: attach himself to a character that he could turn into a franchise.
“The Green Hornet” opened in 2011 with Rogen in the lead, visionary director Michel Gondry behind the camera, and Rogen cowriting the script with Goldberg.
Sounds like a franchise in the making.
Sadly, that didn’t happen. With lousy reviews and a lifetime gross of only $228 million worldwide – on a $120 million budget – the movie killed any hopes of Rogen being the next big superhero star.
And it was the best thing to happen to him.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that after ‘The Green Hornet’ is when we started producing, writing, and directing way more movies that, to some degree, have a larger rate of success,” Rogen told Business Insider in an interview alongside Goldberg.
“‘The Green Hornet’ was just the greatest education possible,” Goldberg said.
After “Green Hornet” went belly-up, the two formed the production company Point Grey Pictures, named after the school they attended as kids in Vancouver, and began making comedies within the $10 million to $40 million budget range, which gave them little worry of studio interference.
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We just never want to be their biggest problem. When we were making “The Green Hornet,” we were the studio’s biggest problem, and so all they could do was focus on us. And as they were focusing on us, we realized a lot of other people were probably getting away with a lot of really cool stuff because they were focusing on us.
Since 2011, the duo has written and produced some of the funniest and most profitable comedies put out by the major studios, including “This Is the End” – which Rogen and Goldberg also directed – “The Interview,” and “Neighbors,” which took in a worldwide gross of $270.6 million on a budget of only $18 million.
Rogen and Goldberg say that they’re happy to take notes from the studios, but now they can also get away with not taking the notes, and that’s a relief.
“Be[ing] the thing that they aren’t paying attention to while they are focusing on their biggest problem,” Rogen said is the biggest lesson they’ve learned.
And then be the thing that turns out really well and can maybe be their most profitable movie, which we’ve been several years for several studios. I’m sure it was the last thing they expected, but it’s always a possibility, which is one of the reasons people make our movies.
The two hope that winning streak continues for their next movie, “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” when it opens in theaters on May 20.