Chatting with Marc Maron on the WTF podcast he admits that by taking it on, he and his collaborator Evan Goldberg "fell into the trap...when you start doing well, you inherent gravitate towards the notion, of doing the biggest thing that you can, basically." Going into the process wide-eyed and keen perhaps made them blind to just how many voices need to be placated with budgets start going north of $100 million dollars.
"We got excited about the prospect of having that opportunity [to make a big, mainstream film] that we did it, being completely naive as to exactly how much of what makes us good, would be basically stifled and evaporated, merely by signing on to do a movie of that budget and that rating," Rogen said. And really it was a combination of hubris, actors and filmmakers both working far outside their comfort zone, and the general machinations of studio movies where it always seems the focus is on the wrong places. Here's what Rogen had to say about what he calls "a dark time":
"While we were making it, it was a fucking nightmare. And Gondry, the director, is wonderful at smaller scale stuff but I think he did not mesh well with [a blockbuster film]. It was his first movie with more than a $20 million dollar budget and this was $120 million dollar budget. And we had never made an action movie, he had never made an action movie. And if there is one thing I look back on like, 'What was the problem there?' It was just the budget. We can't make a really edgy fun movie for our types of people for that amount of money. There's just too much skepticism that it draws. 'Mo money, 'mo problems. You can't take risks, [the studio] wouldn't let us take risks anyway. And that makes it very hard to make a movie that's exciting."
"It's weird what risks they're willing to take. The script is under great scrutiny, the lines, the characters, the dialogue, he should have a father, it should be this, it should be that. We just wanted to get it made and not waste all this time. And then things like the action sequences, which is really where all the money's getting spent, go under no scrutiny whatsoever. No one looks at it. No one looks at the pre-vis. No one looks at the storyboards. What we spent like literally $50 million dollars on, no one checks out. And that's whats crazy. The way the money was spent and the way the money is spent on a lot of these movies is crazy."
"When you look back on it, the things we spent the most money on were under the least amount of scrutiny of all the things in the movie. But overall, when you look back at the movies we've enjoyed making -- 'Superbad,' 'Pineapple Express,' 'Knocked Up,' this one 'This Is The End,' '50/50' was a lot of fun -- and it's the ones where they leave us alone and we can do whatever we want, we're in charge or our friends are in charge, and we are free to do whatever we want [that turn out the best]. There were so many times on 'Green Hornet' where we were like, 'It'd be funny if this happens,' and they'd be like, 'Yeah, well we can't do that cause it's R-rated.' I think we hoped we could be the guys who made the edgy PG-13 movie but we just couldn't really do it."
And while Rogen certainly voices his disappointment in the reception to the movie ("It was hard to figure out what to fix because it was our highest testing movie ever. It tested 95 out of 100."), he adds that Sony were with them every step of the way, and they were never left holding the bag or full responsibility for the picture. But what lesson did they learn from all this?
"It took 3 years of our lives and we always say, 'We could've made five movies in that time'," Goldberg said. "We shouldn't make expensive movies where we can't make a million dick jokes," Rogen added during an appearance on another podcast Doug Loves Movies. And would they ever make a sequel?
"No, that'd be a nightmare," Rogen told Doug with Goldberg echoing his sentiments bluntly: "I would rather just not work for a year."
And it seems they took those lessons to heart as their upcoming "This Is The End" doesn't hold back on the spectacle, contains tons of dick jokes, was shot for a mere $31 million dollars last year, and hits theaters on Wednesday.