Kevin Smith has given a new interview this week, discussing the current status of his 1999 religious comedy Dogma, and asserting that the movie is being “held hostage” by producer Harvey Weinstein.
Dogma has become an unlikely “lost film” of the streaming era: Although the movie—still the biggest box office win in Smith’s whole ViewAskewniverse of films—was released on DVD and VHS in 2000, and on Blu-Ray in 2008, it’s since gone out of print on home video. (It’s not available on streaming, either.) The reasons for that scarcity all come back to rights owner Weinstein, who was an early champion of Smith’s work, and who helped Dogma make it to theaters despite pressure from religious groups to censor the film.
That relationship has now, of course, soured mightily in the wake of the many allegations of sexual assault and coercion made against Weinstein by Hollywood actresses—including Dogma star Salma Hayek, who recounted a number of horrifying incidents in relation to her Miramax movie Frida. When the allegations against Weinstein became public in 2017, Smith pledged to donate the residuals from all the movies he made with Weinstein toward a charity for women filmmakers.
In a new interview with The Wrap this week—timed to the release of Clerks III—Smith opened up about a conversation he had with Weinstein shortly before those allegations came to light. Smith said Weinstein called him up out of the blue to talk about a possible continuation of Dogma, long a topic of both desire and speculation. “And I got really excited because I was like, ‘Oh my God, for the first time. The dude remembered me. Like, after a decade he remembered that I was part of the Miramax family,’” Smith said. “And he remembered that he had Dogma and had a cool cast and I don’t know, I felt like wow, that’s, that’s cool.”
A few weeks later, reality (and headlines) set in. “He was calling not because he wanted to do anything with Dogma,” Smith realized. “He wanted to see if I was one of the people who had spoken to the New York Times. I hadn’t, because I didn’t know any of that stuff.”
A few years later, Smith says, he heard that a new DVD of Dogma was supposedly being produced, learning that Weinstein was trying to sell off the rights to the film for $5 million. (Which, as even Smith notes, is significantly more than the film is worth at this point.) Although Smith made it clear that he wouldn’t participate in any new features for a Dogma DVD that Weinstein would profit from, he was willing to try to buy the film himself, albeit not happily:
Which we felt very dirty about because we didn’t want to give him money…But at the same time, it’s like my movie and he’s got it. He’s holding it hostage. My movie about angels is owned by the devil himself. And if there’s only one way out of this, maybe we could buy it away.
But Weinstein—who’s in jail, and likely will be for years, on convictions for sexual assault and rape—”scoffed” at offers from Smith’s camp, continuing to demand that $5 million figure. “My movie about heaven is in limbo,” Smith says. He says there’s also not much recourse at this point: “You can make a public stink, but I don’t think that guy reads the news anymore.”