“My movie about angels is owned by the devil himself,” Smith said. “Sell me my self-expression back.”
Kevin Smith is coming clean about what really happened with the rights to his 1999 hit film “Dogma.”
The religious satire starring Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Chris Rock, and Alan Rickman is currently being “held hostage” by producer Harvey Weinstein, according to the filmmaker. The film is not available to stream online or buy digitally, while rare Blu-rays sell for roughly $100.
“In order to tell the story, unfortunately, I’m gonna have to say the name that nobody wants to hear anymore. But of course, Harvey Weinstein figures into the story,” Smith told The Wrap when asked about the fate of box office and critical success “Dogma.”
After then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner allegedly told Smith to “not make ‘Dogma'” as it was “too hot button” of a film, Weinstein greenlit the film anyways and eventually sold it to himself and released the movie through his company Shining Excalibur .
Smith said that Weinstein only made “Dogma” knowing that he could “do a Shining Excalibur with it at the end of the day, and since Disney paid for it, whether or not he had to pay them back, it would behoove him to make the movie and deal with the consequences later on.”
Distributor Lionsgate picked up the theatrical release, with Columbia/TriStar having the home video rights for a limited time before “the rights lapsed,” per Smith. Years later, when The Weinstein Company was “rebuilding and doing the almost Miramax version” of themselves, Smith claimed his film was a “complete afterthought.”
“I mean, honestly, not even a thought. I don’t think he realized that he still owned that movie,” the “Clerks” star explained. “I don’t think he realized that it went out of public distribution or anything like that.”
Smith’s final feature with Weinstein was 2008’s “Zack and Miri Make a Porno.” Ten years later, Weinstein called Smith “out of the blue” to pitch a “Dogma” TV series or sequel.
“All the people that were in it are still around, so we can make a pretty good sequel or series even better,” Smith said. “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.’ 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.”
One week later, The New York Times published the investigative report alleging Weinstein raped and assaulted dozens of women.
Smith recalled being “real excited” about the prospect of “Dogma” being revisited but then felt “gross and disgusting” following the allegations against Weinstein (The former mega-producer was later convicted of rape and sentenced to 23 years in prison.)
Smith recalled telling producer and former Miramax executive John Gordon that Weinstein had contacted him ahead of the NYT exposé. Per Smith, Gordon told him that Weinstein “called everyone because he knew the story was coming. And he wanted to find out who spoke [to the New York Times].”
“I was like, ‘That makes perfect sense,'” Smith recalled. “I’m guilty, I don’t see all the angles. He was calling not because he wanted to do anything with ‘Dogma.’ He wanted to see if I was one of the people who had spoken to the New York Times. I didn’t, because I didn’t know any of that stuff.”
Smith previously claimed Weinstein refused to pay royalties for “Clerks,” with a total of seven years before being able to see profits from the now-classic feature that spurred a trilogy.
Years after the 2017 interaction with Weinstein, Smith was informed that a new “Dogma” DVD was being released and that Weinstein was trying to sell the rights to the film for $5 million, which Smith admitted was “overvaluing” the movie. Weinstein’s attorneys contacted Smith’s lawyers asking for him to be involved in the re-release.
“Please tell that company that I’ll have nothing to do with it, if he’s still attached to it,” Smith said at the time. “I’ll work on a ‘Dogma’ anything, as long as he has no more ties to it.”
Smith also tried to buy back the rights to the film, “which we felt very dirty about because we didn’t want to give him money,” he added.
“But at the same time, it’s like my movie and he’s got it,” Smith said. “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.”
Weinstein “scoffed at” Smith’s two offers, holding out for $5 million, the filmmaker said.
“Look, I love ‘Dogma’ as much as the next guy but a) I don’t have $5 million and b) that’s not what the market bears anymore,” Smith said. “We live in a streaming era. The last I heard was from a different company, saying he wouldn’t sell me my movie back. I thought what else can I do? There’s not much. You can make a public stink, but I don’t think that guy reads the news anymore.”
Smith speculated that Weinstein set up a “different shell company” to sell “Dogma” by claiming a “new company” has it.
“My movie about heaven is in limbo,” the “Chasing Amy” director said. “What sucks is that he’s also sitting his fat ass on my movie. And the right thing to do would have been to sell it back to me even if you didn’t want to sell for the price that I first said. Tell us what that price is and sell me my self-expression back.”