- Kevin Smith told Business Insider the last conversation he had with Harvey Weinstein in 2017, which happened to be a week before The New York Times published an explosive exposé about Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct toward women for decades.
- Smith said Weinstein called him about getting his 1999 movie “Dogma” available again to the public; the movie, which Weinstein owns, has never been available for streaming.
- Weinstein also suggested that they could make a sequel to the movie, Smith said.
- But after The New York Times story broke, Smith said he felt “sick to my stomach.”
- A longtime defender of Weinstein, the writer-director felt that Weinstein only brought up “Dogma” so that Smith would more likely be a vocal supporter once the Times story came out.
- To date, “Dogma” is the only Kevin Smith movie that is not available on a streaming platform.
- “I don’t know if that call even happened, and if it did, that there was any expectation other than making a creative business decision; it’s what Weinstein was well know for,” Weinstein’s spokesman Juda Engelmayer told Business Insider.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Writer-director Kevin Smith is known for never being at a loss for words, but he admits he was taken aback when he said Harvey Weinstein called him out of the blue in the fall of 2017.
The two hadn’t talked in almost a decade, following the box office disappointment of Smith’s 2008 raunchy comedy “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” starring Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks, which Weinstein made through his The Weinstein Company.
And now here was Weinstein, who had launched Smith’s career when he bought his debut feature “Clerks” in 1994 for then-Weinstein’s Miramax, cold-calling him.
“I said, ‘Hey, how are you?’ And he goes, ‘You know, we have ‘Dogma,’ I just realised, and we got to get it out there again,'” Smith recalled to Business Insider while promoting his upcoming movie “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” (in select theatres starting October 15).
“Dogma,” Smith’s 1999 film starring Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as two fallen angels, has never been available on any streaming platform.
“I said, ‘We do! People online are always asking where they can get it,'” Smith said. “And he then goes, ‘You know, that movie had a big cast, we might even be able to do a sequel.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah man, right on. I might think about that.’ And he was like, ‘We’ll talk.’ And a week later The New York Times story breaks. I felt sick to my stomach.”
“I don’t know if that call even happened, and if it did, that there was any expectation other than making a creative business decision; it’s what Weinstein was well know for,” Weinstein’s spokesman Juda Engelmayer told Business Insider.
“Someone using something you love to provoke a reaction”
In October 2017, The New York Times ran an explosive account of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct towards women for decades. The revelations destroyed Weinstein’s career as a producer in Hollywood and launched the #MeToo movement, in which other women began to speak out about their own experiences with sexual harassment.
Smith said after reading The New York Times story, he told someone who worked at Miramax about the call he got from Weinstein. According to Smith, that person said he got a similar call from the producer.
“He was starting to circle the wagons,” Smith said of Weinstein, looking back on the phone call with the producer. “It was him looking to see who was a friend still because his life was about to shift completely. And I used to be a defence guy. I wrote a piece in Variety on how he’s still got the edge when people would go after him like, ‘Harvey’s lost his touch.'”
In a 2004 editorial in Variety, Smith defended Weinstein following the release of Peter Biskind’s book “Down and Dirty Pictures,” which chronicled bullying and intimidation by Harvey Weinstein and his brother Bob to make Miramax a hit-making distribution and production company in the 1990s.
“I’d like to defend a man I respect, love, and would take a bullet for: the last great movie mogul,” Smith wrote of Weinstein in the editorial.
But if Weinstein thought dangling a “Dogma” sequel in front of Smith would motivate the boisterous filmmaker to once more be at the producer’s defence once the Times story broke, he was wrong, according to Smith.
“There are people who are the real victims here, but I have to be honest with you, I felt like it was someone using something you love to provoke a reaction,” Smith said, who days after the Times story tweeted that he’s “ashamed” Weinstein financed his films. (He’s since donated money to the non-profit Women in Film.)
Why you can never watch ‘Dogma’
“Dogma” is the only Kevin Smith movie that has never been available on a streaming service.
The Weinstein brothers personally own the rights, after Disney, which owned Miramax in 1999, wouldn’t let the company release it due to the controversy over the movie’s treatment of Catholicism (the Weinsteins got Lionsgate to release it instead). Its home video rights, which predate streaming, have since lapsed and the Weinsteins have never made an effort to renew it, according to Smith.
The director said long before the cold call from Weinstein, he reached out to the producer asking if he would sell him back the movie. Smith never got a response.
“Of all the people who have gripes against that individual – whose name used to be so easier to say – mine is a minor one and doesn’t come close to their real world issues,” Smith said. “But the irony of having the one movie that’s about faith and spirituality locked down because of the situation that takes it out of public view is not lost on me.”
2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the release of “Dogma,” which Smith is disappointed can’t be celebrated properly because the movie is not available. Though he said there’s always hope for when the movie turns 25.
“You know, it sounds like he’s got legal bills,” Smith said, referring to Weinstein’s upcoming trial in January for rape and sexual assault charges. “That’s an asset you can sell to somebody.”
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