NOTE: I’m aware that a leaked version of the script has been floating around the internet for some time. If you have – by any chance – read that script, PLEASE refrain from posting spoilers in the comment section!
‘What You Should Know’ is a Rotoscopers series that gives you a detailed and (somewhat) objective rundown of this year’s animated films, right before or on the day they hit theaters. That way, you can make a decision on whether or not to see the movie based on the information provided.
MOVIE: Sausage Party
DIRECTED BY: Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon
WRITTEN BY: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir (Story by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Jonah Hill).
STARRING: Seth Rogen (Frank), Kristen Wiig (Brenda Bunson), Jonah Hill (Carl), Bill Hader (Firewater), Michael Cera (Barry), James Franco (Human Drug Addict), Danny McBride (Honey Mustard), Craig Robinson (Mr. Grits), Paul Rudd (Darren), Nick Kroll (Douche), David Krumholtz (Vash), Edward Norton (Sammy Bagel Jr.), and Salma Hayek (Teresa).
MUSIC BY: Christopher Lennertz and Alan Menken
STUDIO: Columbia Pictures
PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Nitrogen Studios Canada, Annpurna Pictures, Point Grey Picutres, and Sony Pictures Imageworks.
PRODUCTION BUDGET: $19 Million
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?:
In this VERY R-rated film from the guys that brought you This is the End and The Interview, oddball characters of various food types discover that their idea of ‘heaven’ isn’t what they thought it would be (they get eaten/sliced up/cut apart by humans). As such, a sausage by the name of Frank gathers his other food friends to engage in a war against humans. Yep, it’s that kind of movie.
A BRIEF HISTORY:
Seth Rogen recently revealed that it took him eight years to get this movie made. Unsurprisingly, the content scared away most studios that he pitched it to. According to him, the film was born from the thought of “What would it be like if our food had feelings?” In Rogen’s words, “We very quickly realized that it would be f**ked up.”
Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Jonah Hill confirmed the project to both Indiewire and MTV News in 2010. It would be three more years before the project would be officially picked up by Sony Pictures, with Annpurna Films agreeing to co-finance with Rogen and Goldberg’s Point Grey Pictures.
IMPORTANT STUFF TO KNOW:
Sony Pictures Imageworks handled part of the animation work internationally, while Nitorgen Studios Canada worked primarily on the rest of the CG animation, pre-production, and post-production.
When the film was submitted to the MPAA, it was initially assigned with an NC-17 (a death sentence for any film, basically). In order to be re-assigned with an R-rating, a piece of pubic hair on Vash’s scrotum had to be digitally removed.
If successful, the film will do something that no other R-rated animated movie has done before: bust the doors wide open for other R-rated animated films to follow. It certainly helps that early word-of-mouth from critics (after screenings at SXSW and Comic-Con) have been overwhelmingly positive.
Also, talk about star power. The movie’s cast – even at just a cursory glance – includes basically anybody who’s ever appeared in a movie with Seth Rogen. So even if you don’t like him, any number of his talented best friends might be a draw for you and possibly others.
As far as risky bets go, you can’t get anymore risky than a theatrically-released R-rated animated feature. Despite positive early word-of-mouth, the film has already become the subject of equal amounts of scrutiny and debate. That scrutiny only worsened in some circles after a leaked version of the script made it online.
Then of course, you have those who fear that Sausage Party will only inspire a host of other R-rated animated features just like it, which is certainly a possibility. Not to mention, there will be a certain sector of the crowd who simply don’t like Seth Rogen movies (but to be honest, that’s never stopped previous Seth Rogen movies before).
If early tracking estimates are to be believed, Sausage Party might do something unprecedented for animated films of its type. The current numbers show the film tracking for an opening weekend of anywhere between $15 to $20 million. This is great news for Sony and Annapurna, of whom the film’s production cost is split 50-50 between both studios. The film has also surpassed Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s previous films Neighbors 2 and This is the End in advanced ticket sales. There are even hopes that it could make as much as $30 million, but so far most industry trackers are keeping their numbers modest.
Three factors contributing to the solid numbers are (as mentioned above): positive word-of-mouth, star-studded cast, and Seth Rogen’s name recognition. Possibly adding to that is the loud social-media buzz (also very positive) and the sheer uniqueness and novelty of this type of film. Even with the R-rating aside, there really isn’t any animated features out there like this one.
Granted, it’s going to be hard to pull away most of the film’s target audience from Warner Bros./DC Films’ Suicide Squad. But with Pete’s Dragon expected to be draw for children and family audiences, Sausage Party should have no trouble attracting the adults in the crowd (my guess, millennials and older males in the 18-34 range).
UPDATE: Sausage Party racked up a stunning $3.25 million on Thursday night! If the film maintains this trajectory, expect opening weekend numbers to meet or surpass tracking estimates.
WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING:
What a world we live in, where a movie like this is actually getting great reviews from critics! Sausage Party currently holds an 84% ‘Certified Fresh’ rating, with the critical consensus stating here: “Sausage Party is definitely offensive, but backs up its enthusiastic profanity with an impressively high gag-to-laugh ratio – and a surprisingly thought-provoking storyline.”
Whatever you think of him and his work, there’s no denying that Seth Rogen is a very intelligent man. Who wouldn’t make this type of film if he didn’t have a specific goal to accomplish. As such, it would seem, at least in the eyes of critics, that Sausage Party has achieved that goal (regardless of what some might think).
The more interesting question is how Sausage Party will effect the status of other R-rated animated features down the road. We’re not quite sure if it will start a trend (yet), but I’m confidant that the film’s effects on the animation industry will be felt for quite some time.
If this article has you interested in seeing Sausage Party, buy your tickets here on Fandango!
Thank you for reading the first installment of What You Should Know!