By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com February 18, 2011 at 1:58AM
Terminal illness and comedy: not always the easiest combination to market. While a film like "Terms of Endearment" was a colossal success, that was a quarter of a century ago, and a more recent example like "Funny People" showed how even the seemingly unstoppable pairing of Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler could come unstuck at the box office when death is on the agenda.
This all goes some way towards explaining why the upcoming cancer-themed comedy-drama produced by and starring Seth Rogen has gone through so many title changes. Originally called "I'm With Cancer," the script, by real-life cancer survivor Will Reiser, featured highly on the Black List a few years back, and attracted Rogen's attention. Summit picked the film up, but the name was swiftly jettisoned, with the film briefly being known as "Untitled Cancer Comedy," and, more recently, "Live With It."
The film has had its fair share of other problems -- original director Nicole Holofcener dropped out, to be replaced by "The Wackness" helmer Jonathan Levine, while James McAvoy, who was set to star, left on the eve of filming, to be replaced at the last minute by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. But things are finally looking up for the project, which also stars Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Philip Baker Hall and Angelica Huston, with Summit setting a (hopefully final) title, and a release date for the film.
Variety announces that the project is now known as "50/50," and will hit theaters on September 30th, going up against Roland Emmerich's period drama "Anonymous," Jim Sheridan's chiller "Dream House," with Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, and the Anna Faris/Chris Evans rom-com "What's Your Number."
It's certainly a crowded time (and more direct competition hits either side, in the form of Bennett Miller's "Moneyball" the week before, and Apatow/David Wain collaboration "Wanderlust" the week after), but it suggests a certain bullishness on Summit's behalf, particularly as, intriguingly, Variety hints that going in for awards consideration may play a part in the film's move. We're certainly curious to see more from the film -- we like Levine, the script is well liked, and the cast is very strong. Our guess is that the film will probably end up bowing at TIFF in early September; hopefully we'll know then if it's been pulled off.