Why Seth Rogen Was Totally On Board With An American Pickle Going To HBO Max

Seth Rogen in An American Pickle
(Image credit: (HBO Max))

Seth Rogen’s latest flick, An American Pickle, marks the actor’s first streaming title with his name on the very top (twice in this case since he’s taken on dual roles in the intergenerational comedy). Although it does seem like more and more big names are going to streaming at this time in particular, An American Pickle was always meant to premiere on HBOMax instead of theaters.

When speaking to CinemaBlend’s Eric Eisenberg, Seth Rogen told us about why he was completely on board with its home on streaming. In his words:

This film very early on we recognized was probably a good contender for streaming release. Although we made it with Sony originally, Columbia, which is a major, giant studio. The first time we all watched it together, Tom Rothman, who is the head of the studio was like, 'I love this movie. I don't think we can release it.' And we honestly were very happy to be having that conversation because we also felt like it probably was not the best path for this film. And the version that they would need to release was not the version that we necessarily wanted to make.

This is interesting. Seth Rogen candidly spoke about how An American Pickle had initially been made under the umbrella of Sony Pictures, but once the studio head watched it, he decided a theatrical release would not be the best way to market it. As Rogen explains, there could have been a different version of the film that could have been a Sony movie, but then they would be compromising their vision for the movie. Rogen continued with this:

I think Tom [Rothman] very wisely, he was one of the architects of Fox Searchlight, and so he understands how different studios are built to release different types of movies. And he was just like, 'Sony is not made to release these types of movies. And I know that because Fox Searchlight would have been exactly right to release this movie,' you know? So we knew a streaming platform was probably the best avenue for it, and the idea of being HBO Max's first film was very appealing to us and very exciting to us – to not be one of a million squares on a screen is something I'm always sensitive to.

So An American Pickle was never meant to be a major release, but that doesn’t mean a studio could not have hit theaters. It fits more neatly under the indie model that a studio like Fox Searchlight often shepherds. If you remember last year’s Jojo Rabbit, that’s an example of a Fox Searchlight release. Movies like this start with a limited release and, if the buzz is flowing among crowds, could have a lengthy life at the box office. With the wave of its rave reviews on the festival circuit and Oscars nods, Jojo made $90 million worldwide against its $14 million production budget.

An American Pickle is reportedly operating on a similar budget, but its place on HBO Max seemed to be a good decision for the filmmakers. It will benefit as the first original film for the streaming service since HBO Max isn’t at a point yet where the options are too overwhelming. Considering how this year shook out theater-wise, the movie could not have benefitted from the decision more.

The movie follows Seth Rogen as Hershel, an immigrant factory worker who falls in a vat of pickle juice and is preserved in brine for 100 years. When he gets out, he finds himself in the present day where he meets his relative Ben, who has much different priorities than he’s accustomed to. Check out CinemaBlend’s full interview with Seth Rogen for An American Pickle here and stay tuned for more exclusives.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.