Sony Hack: 'Pineapple Express 2,' Adam Sandler Contract Disputes Revealed
'Pineapple Express 2' appears to have fallen apart earlier this year over $5 million
Emails leaked by hackers following last month's cyberattack on Sony's systems have shed light on the studio's contract negotiations for several projects.
According to reports by the Daily Beast (here and here), one film that Sony was considering committing to was Pineapple Express 2, a follow-up to the 2008 Judd Apatow-produced comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco. Those two actors also star in The Interview, which Sony pulled Wednesday from a planned theatrical release after hackers threatened a 9/11-style attack.
In January, Apatow emailed Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal to say he was optimistic that the sequel would get made. "I am so glad we are so close to getting Pineapple Express 2 figured out," he wrote. "I am very excited to make this thing real. We are very inspired creatively on this one. We have hilarious ideas." He added that the sequel would make more money than the first one, explaining: "Marijuana is so popular now!"
That same day, Rogen sent a similar email to Pascal: "Got some stuff we are pretty psyched about. It would be a blast."
However, difficulty arose when the exact budget was debated. Sony's financial team held firm on allotting $45 million, but Apatow wanted to make it for $50 million, rationalizing that the extra money would go toward better action scenes to offer more marketability to an international audience.
Columbia Pictures co-president of production Michael De Luca initially had reservations about $50 million but finally came around. However, president of SPE's Motion Picture Group Doug Belgrad was unconvinced, writing: "In my heart, I don't believe Pineapple is Austin Powers or even Anchorman; I think it's more like This Is the End." Pascal, too, was unwilling to spend more than $45 million, essentially killing it.
Another project inciting heated debate recently was Adam Sandler's proposed Candyland film, with Sandler apparently demanding during a meeting that Sony greenlight the film on the spot for $200 million.
In an April email to Pascal and other execs, Columbia Pictures co-president of productions Hannah Minghella wrote: "Adam is an asshole, and this is more his fault than anyone's, but what we did was not communicate with each other and make assumptions." Similarly, in an October email regarding Sandler asking for an additional six-figure production fee for his producing partner Allen Covert on Hotel Transylvania 2, Pascal wrote that Sandler and Covert are "assholes."
Later that month, De Luca wrote that he wanted the studio to hire writer-directors like Edgar Wright to prepare for the potential absence of longtime Sony mainstays Sandler, who agreed earlier this year to a four-film deal with Netflix, and Will Smith, whose last Sony film was the 2013 flop After Earth.