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Kevin Smith Has A Plan For Dogma, But Harvey Weinstein Is Blocking It From Prison

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck
(Image credit: Miramax)

Kevin Smith doesn’t mind revisiting his past properties, whether he’s staging a “Reboot” for his classic stoner characters Jay and Silent Bob, or revisiting the convenience store that launched his career with Clerks III. But there’s one movie in Smith’s filmography that he’s currently unable to dabble with any more, and it’s because Harvey Weinstein is making it impossible.

Back in 1999, Smith released a comedic examination of Catholicism, filtered through the filmmaker’s foul-mouthed lens. Dogma cast Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as angels who have been excommunicated from Heaven who believe that they have discovered a loophole that will allow them back through the Pearly Gates. If that were to happen, though, a slew of banished angels would be permitted to returning, causing all sorts of chaos. It was a mature screenplay for Smith – as “mature” as any movie can be that features a giant monster made out of shit. But because it was distributed by Miramax, the movie literally belongs to Harvey Weinstein. 

And he refuses to sell it back to Smith. 

The Clerks director stopped by CinemaBlend’s ReelBlend podcast to comb through his career. And when we got to Dogma, Smith turned unusually melancholic when he stated:

I wish I could get that movie back, man. I've talked about it before, but you know, Harvey Weinstein – sorry, kids – owns that movie personally. The devil himself owns my movie about angels. And we reached out to try to get it back. Though, I was very conflicted about making an offer to buy it. Because I wouldn't give that guy money. But everybody pointed out, ‘You're not giving him money. You're giving money to an account that is gonna be dispersed to a bunch of people he's giving money to.’ And I'm like, ‘Alright, fair enough. (That) I can get my head around. Let's do it. Let's open up. Let's reach out to the lawyer and say, Hey, we would like to buy this movie back.’

Kevin Smith started the long legal process to try and buy back the rights to the movie that he created. Dogma was Smith’s original idea, and the cast was made up of veterans from Smith’s ViewAskew-niverse, including Jason Lee and Jay Mewes. But the newcomers to the cast were something else. Alan Rickman, Salma Hayek, Chris Rock, and George Carlin all made their first appearances in a Kevin Smith joint. 

But as Smith continued his story, the chances of Dogma seeing the light of day seemed dim. He told ReelBlend:

I wrote a letter where I'm like, ‘I know it's just an asset to you. But like, this is my life. And one of my most important films. And like, I can't even show it. Nevermind talk about making another one, or anything like that. So like, please, can I have… sell it back to me. And we made an offer that I thought was fair for the marketplace. Considering this is a movie that's over 20 years old and stuff. And we were told no. Then we upped the offer. We were told no again. Again, this all comes from his lawyer. I have no contact with the guy whatsoever. He's in jail, as we all know, but his lawyer, I guess, talks to him and then relates the answer back. So he has refused to sell me my own movie. And each time, the money went up to pretty good money. He has a magic figure in his head that he feels he's going to get, I guess. Again, I don't know his thought process. This is just what I could gather from the lawyer. He's got some figure. I think he wants like 5 million. It's never going to happen. Who's gonna pay 5 million for a movie? That's dead.

Which is disappointing, because while Kevin Smith isn’t really a blockbuster filmmaker known for raking in millions of dollars from his releases, he has cultivated an incredibly passionate fanbase, and even created a Road Show model that allows him to tour his films and show them as part of events that include a Q-and-A. He plans to do that with Clerks III, and he told ReelBlend he’d love to do that with Dogma one day. Said Smith:

I would just like to own this very beautiful movie about forgiveness and faith and blah, blah, blah. That's tied up with this animal and he won’t sell it back to me, man. … If that dude had any conscience, he'd just give the movie back. In a world where we know he has no conscience, like – we offered real, I mean like this is gross, but like I don't have this, but like I was able to collect a million dollars to offer for the movie, man. And it’s still being held hostage. So it’s kind of disappointing. I hope it gets free because I would love to do the (sequel) that I wanted to do. At the very least, I would just like to take it out into the world. If I got Dogma back, I'd tour that for like six months, because hell yeah. People haven't seen it in a dog's age. They'd come out and see it in a theater again.

Maybe this can be the start of the push that Kevin Smith needs to raise enough awareness to get Harvey Weinstein to give the director his movie back. Forget the Snyder Cut. Let Dogma go back to Kevin Smith, so that he can show it to fans both old and new. If you want to hear the rest of Smith's interview with ReelBlend. 

While we wait for positive news on Dogma, make sure you are seeing Clerks III, either as part of a Fathom event, or when Smith brings it to a city near you.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.