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In the six to eight weeks, every film that was set to be released in the middle months of 2020 as had to make the same decision: either find a workable theatrical date later in the year or in 2021, or figure out a strategy for early digital release. Different movies have made different choices, and the latest to opt for the latter option is Brandon Trost's American Pickle – a comedy that will see Seth Rogen play two very distinctly different roles.
It was announced today that Sony Pictures has made a deal with HBO Max that will see American Pickle released on the upcoming platform instead of going to the big screen. In the press release about the news it is specifically cited that the move was made by Sony so that the movie could be released in 2020 despite theater closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Based on a New Yorker novella by Simon Rich (who also wrote the script), American Pickle begins centering on Herschel Greenbaum (Seth Rogen) – a laborer who immigrates to America in 1920 with the hopes of creating a new life for himself and his family. He winds up taking a job at a food processing plant, and an at-work accident results in him falling into a vat of pickles. The brine winds up perfectly preserving him for 100 years, and when he wakes up his first thought is to find his family. Unfortunately, his only descendant is a thoroughly-modern computer coder named Ben (Rogen) who is basically an alien to Herschel.
To highlight the move of American Pickle to HBO Max, Seth Rogen posted the first look at the film, which is essentially a classic studio portrait of Herschel Greenbaum, sporting an impressive beard even for a face hair veteran like Rogen:
American Pickle is the first live-action feature starring Seth Rogen to be released since Jonathan Levine's Long Shot in the first half of 2019, but he has still been super active if you've been looking in the right places. For starters, he voiced Pumbaa in Jon Favreau's The Lion King last summer, and during the same season also appeared in the Season 1 finale of CBS All Access' The Twilight Zone. Most recently he played a prominent supporting role in the third season of the Hulu original series Future Man (which he also produces).
As for the filmmakers, Simon Rich is a name that may be familiar to TV fans given that he has created two different shows in the last few years: FX's Man Seeking Woman, and TBS' Miracle Workers. As for Brandon Trost, American Pickle is actually his feature directorial debut, though he has a long history of collaborating with Seth Rogen as a cinematographer, having shot movies like The Night Before, The Interview, Neighbors, and The Disaster Artist.
Co-starring Succession's Sarah Snook, Maya Erskine, Jorma Taccone, and more, American Pickle could very easily wind up being one of the funniest movies of 2020... but exactly when it will be released is not presently clear. HBO Max has set May 27th as its launch date, so it won't be available earlier than that.