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Kevin Smith's new movie, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, is, like Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back before it, largely a love letter to the fans of Smith's View Askewnaverse movies and characters. If you've been a Kevin Smith fan since Clerks then you'll recognize many of the actors, and the characters they play, when they return after a long hiatus.
A couple of the returns have been quite surprising. Nobody really expected Ben Affleck to come back, and seeing him in the first trailer was quite a surprise, but another big surprise was seeing Matt Damon appear as the character Loki from Smith's movie Dogma. The surprise there comes from the fact that Smith doesn't technically have the rights to the Loki character.
The Loki character appears briefly in the new film in a scene that was apparently inserted during post-production. Kevin Smith told Business Insider that Damon was unavailable during filming, but didn't want to be left out of the fun...
We were in post and Matt got back from vacation and was like, 'Don't leave me out, I want to do something.'
Initially, Smith says his plan was for Matt Damon to play himself, as he had done in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, but Smith's wife pushed him to use the character of Loki, Damon's fallen angel character from Dogma.
Except, there's a problem with that. Most of Smith's movies back in those days were produced by Miramax, and Smith was able to get permission from Miramax to use all the characters the studio had the rights to. However, Dogma is a special case. The rights to that movie are actually owned personally by the former head of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein.
Miramax used to be owned by Disney, and the Mouse House wasn't thrilled with the idea of making a movie that focused on a woman who worked in an abortion clinic fighting angels, and so declined to produce Dogma. Weinstein decided to buy the rights to the movie himself, and he produced the movie through Lionsgate.
Weinstein still owns the rights, which puts inserting the character into the movie into a legally grey area, but Smith says that he still feels some sense of ownership having created the character, and that including Loki is the right thing to do.
This is the 20th anniversary of Dogma. I can't celebrate it because the movie is not owned by me. It's not available publicly. At a certain point, I felt I created Loki. It's not like we are building the marketing campaign on Loki, so I'm going to weight a certainty over a doubt and I'm certain including Loki is the right thing to do. The only thing that would be the doubt is he starred in a movie that you don't technically own.
It seems unlikely Kevin Smith will have much problem with putting Loki in the movie. As Smith says, he's not selling the film on the character he doesn't own, so there isn't much argument for a financial loss. On top of that Harvey Weinstein is a bit busy with other more pressing concerns right now.
Jay and Silent Bob Reboot can be seen in theaters tonight as part of a Fathom event, before the movie goes on a roadshow.