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Sundance: David Gordon Green jumps back to indie in ‘Prince Avalanche’
|  IFC Films
Emile Hirsch (left) and Paul Rudd star in the comedy "Prince Avalanche," directed by David Gordon Green ("Pineapple Express").
Paul Rudd, a cast member in "Prince Avalanche," arrives at the premiere of the film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Emile Hirsch, left, and Paul Rudd, cast members in "Prince Avalanche," greet each other at the premiere of the film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Paul Rudd, a cast member in "Prince Avalanche," poses at the premiere of the film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
David Gordon Green, left, writer/director of "Prince Avalanche," mingles with cast member Emile Hirsch at the premiere of the film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Paul Rudd, left, and Emile Hirsch, cast members in "Prince Avalanche," pose together at the premiere of the film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Emile Hirsch, center, a cast member in "Prince Avalanche," works the press line at the premiere of the film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
David Gordon Green, center, writer/director of "Prince Avalanche," poses with cast members Paul Rudd, left, and Emile Hirsch at the premiere of the film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Emile Hirsch, a cast member in "Prince Avalanche," poses at the premiere of the film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
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“I hunted it down, watched it on an airplane, and 10 minutes in, I knew it was awesome,” Green remembers. He promptly made a “really quick handshake (remake) deal with the filmmakers. I conceived the idea in February, and we were sound mixing by July.”

Though Green’s string of comedies might seem unexpected given what his indie films were like, the director says that he has “a funny, bombastic side, and if I don’t let those animals out of the cage sometimes, I’m going to need a lot more therapy.”

More than that, Green says he was known for comedies when he was in film school at the North Carolina School of the Arts.

One reason he chose the serious “George Washington,” a film about troubled children in the South, for his first feature was that “defying expectations is of great interest to me. Expectations are all the more reason for me to do something different.”

Still, by the time he was making “Snow Angels,” his fourth small and somber film, “I was tired of crying in the editing room. My agent came to visit me on the set and I told him I wanted to make a big-budget studio comedy.”

At roughly the same time, actor Danny McBride - a buddy of Green’s from film school - was meeting with Judd Apatow, who wanted to star him in a stoner comedy he was producing for Sony Pictures.

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Did McBride have any ideas on who might direct? He did, and “Pineapple Express,” which Green counts as one of his most pleasurable experiences, was born.

Green had a chance to watch Apatow direct and realized their methods were similar: “I thought, ‘All I need is funny people instead of people crying and it’ll be the same thing.’”

“Pineapple Express” went on to gross $87 million at the domestic box office.

“When the film came out, instead of the phone going silent, Sony called,” Green recalls. “They opened a sound stage full of Lexuses and said, ‘Go get one.’ That film was bizarrely successful: It’s referenced in rap lyrics, it got a Golden Globe nomination and there’s a smoothie named for it in Austin.”

“Prince Avalanche” was acquired at Sundance on Wednesday by Magnolia Pictures, and the company said it is eyeing a summer theatrical release.

Though he enjoyed the low-key atmosphere of “Prince,” Green remains someone who says, “My ambition is absurd, ridiculous, it has no bounds,” and his list of future projects reflects that.

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