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Clerks II almost had its own frozen-in-time, Electric Boogaloo-esque title.
Released 15 years ago, on July 21, 2006, Kevin Smith’s sequel to his 1994 indie breakout Clerks was originally going to be called The Passion of the Clerks — to spoof of Mel Gibson’s blockbuster 2004 biblical epic The Passion of the Christ.
The title was being championed by now-disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who acquired the first Clerks film following its debut at Sundance via his Miramax Films and was distributing the sequel under his subsequent studio, The Weinstein Co.
“He loved that title, The Passion of the Clerks,” Smith told us during a recent Zoom interview (watch above). “I was happy with it.”
So what changed?
“Somebody on the internet was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s so terrible. … It’s a dated reference by the time your movie comes out. You’re sequelizing Clerks, why would you go with a kind of Naked Gun-type jokey title?’” Smith recalled. “And that profoundly affected me. Where I was like, ‘You’re right, you’re right. That’s so hack! Why did I do that?”
Smith’s epiphany via random internet commenter meant he had to push back against Weinstein to lose the Gibson-trolling title.
“I had to fight to get it changed back to Clerks II,” he says. “Because all the marketing they had built was based on The Passion of the Clerks.”
It was hardly the first or last time Smith was heavily influenced by an anonymous fan or commenter, he says.
“It happens all the time, man. Strangers who I’ve never met, not even seen their faces, just words on a screen, have had more of an impact on me than some of the people closest to me in this world. So the moment one of those cats was like, ‘Passion of the Clerks? What, is nobody being honest with you in this life anymore?’ I was like, ‘You’re right, you’re right.’”
Clerks II catches up with convenience store employees Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) as they’re forced to take new jobs at a Rosario Dawson-managed fast food joint called Mooby’s after the Quick Stop burns down. Jason Mewes and Smith, meanwhile, reprise their signature roles as Jersey loiterers Jay and Silent Bob.
Though Smith may have hinted at it but was not yet ready to announce anything at the time of our interview, he revealed this week that he’ll reunite with the cast and crew next month to begin production on Clerks III.
Just don’t expect any sort of jokey title beyond that.
— Video produced by Anne Lilburn and edited by Jason Fitzpatrick
Watch Kevin Smith talk about opening the world's first podcasting-only theater next to the world's most famous convenience store:
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