Writer/director Kevin Smith’s relationship with indie mogul Harvey Weinstein goes back two decades when Weinstein acquired and distributed Smith’s very first film, Clerks. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that Weinstein has passed on producing Smith’s planned third installment of the misadventures of Smith’s two Jersey-ite register jockeys.
[The Weinsteins] passed. I went in with a $6m budget and they were, like, ‘Oh no Kevin, this is too high’. Bob offered us distribution but they weren’t going to finance it.
What’s surprising about this is that Smith’s indie films – we’re going to ignore his one studio effort, Cop Out, done for Warner Brothers – have always been produced on ridiculously low budgets and have always turned a profit, despite the fact that he has never really had a box office blockbuster. Clerks II, which Smith made in 2006, had a price tag of just $5 million, cleared almost five times that much at the box office, clearly putting it into the black. And that’s before ancillary revenue like home video kicked in. You would think that $6 million would be an easy price to pay for Weinstein.
Weinstein, whose company does own the rights to the franchise through his the Weinstein Company, did offer to distribute the pic should Smith get it financed through other means. And that shouldn’t be too hard a trick as Smith has managed to land independent funding for his last couple of features, Red State and Tusk. If it comes to it, Smith, who has been adverse to the idea of established filmmakers such as himself using crowdfunding means like Kickstarter to finance projects, has indicated that he would pay for the film out of his own pocket. But this does put a crimp into Smith’s plans to shoot the film at some point later this year.