Neighbors producers Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen mentioned at the Produced By conference that they’re still taking a lot of meetings about a sequel to their hit summer comedy, which is on the verge of hitting $220 million worldwide, but it’s still undetermined whether they will move forward. In the meantime, they are trying to get the project Jazz Cops off the ground, a starring vehicle for Rogen and Kevin Hart, about two cops during the 1950s trying to infiltrate the jazz scene. A bulk of their conversation, along with fellow producing partner James Weaver who first started with Rogen as an assistant on Funny People, was devoted to the lessons they’ve learned while writing, directing and producing their comedies. After working on The Green Hornet, the trio learned — big budget isn’t everything. Too much red tape, too many parties to contend with. After enjoying the buffer from the studios on their Judd Apatow productions, i.e. Knocked Up, Superbad and Pineapple Express, Weaver has been a welcome cog in their wheel, continually providing updates to the studios and agents as the cameras rolls.
“There’s a point where you have to say ‘Stop’,” said Rogen. ”On Neighbors we played the studio game, and continually received notes and waited for the call that movie would go forward. We stopped, had a real moment, and cut the budget in half — which it turns out was the factor stopping the project (from proceeding forward) in the first place,” explained the comedy actor/producer who made the film for $18 million. “Essentially, we assess, what’s the most amount of money we can make this movie for, for the most amount of go-away (from those giving it to us),” said Rogen about the trio being left to their creative devices, adding “We’ve been good on our budgets.” Point Grey made 50/50 for the thrifty price of $8 million and This Is the End for $32 million.
“We also test the shit out of our movies because you can scientifically calculate what is funny and what is not, and that’s why we shoot a number of alternative scenes. Hopefully we get to a place where every jokes works,” said Rogen, who originally didn’t believe that the character of McLovin was going to be funny in Superbad until it came to testing. Added Golberg, “We film the test audience and how they laugh.” Seth continued, “we’re testing a movie in a week for a big joke to see if it might work.”
Currently the trio’s company Point Grey is working on the marketing, music cues and color correction for their October 10 comedy The Interview. They’re also in pre-production on their Christmas comedy with Joesph Gordon Levitt as well as in the throes of recording actors’ voices for their Sony animated film Sausage Party. “That one was hatched when we were baked on the coach,” says Goldberg.