Can Pineapple Express successfully draw a more mainstream audience to the stoner comedy genre?

Stoner Mentality

on August 04, 2008 by Phil Contrino

By Phil Contrino

When Pineapple Express hits theatres this Wednesday it will bring with it a little more pedigree than most "stoner comedies."

Judd Apatow, who is now the most prolific and often the most successful comedy kingpin working in showbiz today, is not only serving as a producer on the film but he also has a "story by" credit. Adding to the drawing power of Express is star Seth Rogen, who has become a very bankable comedy actor over the last couple of years.

While not all of the projects that Apatow has produced have been wildly successful, see Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and Drillbit Taylor, his track record is pretty solid when Rogen appears onscreen.

Yet with an R rating and a plot that revolves around consuming massive amounts of marijuana, Express will have to struggle a little bit to reach the kind of mainstream audience that helped Apatow's Knocked Up gross $219 million worldwide.

Stoner comedies tend to fall under the category of cult successes. They are made for little money and when they show returns that would normally be considered weak for many studio films, they are still considered strong performers.

Take for instance this year's Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. The sequel to 2004's Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle brought in $38.1 million domestically, but it was still considered a success because it cost only $12 million to make and it is sure to do brisk business now that it's available on DVD.

In 1998, Half Baked helped reinvigorate the stone comedy. It has gained a massive following through DVD, but it made only $17.3 million domestically during its theatrical run.

Pineapple Express should make more in its first weekend than Half Baked did in its entire theatrical run and that speaks volumes about just how much of a draw Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow have become. They have brought crude comedies into the mainstream again in a big way.

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