Why Kevin Smith changed the title of 'Clerks II'

Kevin Smith changed the title of Clerks II from its original title The Passion of the Clerks, after a fan criticized him online.

Video transcript

- I'm not in high school anymore. [BLEEP] I'm not even in my 20s anymore. I don't want to sit around and rag on customers while eating free food. That's what you want to do. That's what you've always wanted to do. Well, if that's all you want out of life, man, then god bless.

KEVIN POLOWY: We are coming up on the 15th anniversary of "Clerks II," the sequel you released July 2006, 12 years after the first "Clerks" helped change the face of independent film. We were talking about titles a little bit. It was going to be called "The Passion of the Clerks" at first. That was a possible title.

You were you were advised against it. What happened? Did you-- were you told not to poke the bear, the bear being Mel Gibson? Any regrets for not poking that bear? What can you say about that?

KEVIN SMITH: It's so funny. In order to tell this story, I'm going to have to probably invoke a name that everyone's going to be like, ugh, but there was a guy who ran the company the Weinstein Company back in the day. He loved that title, "The Passion of the Clerks." I was happy with it until on the internet somebody was like, oh my god. That's so terrible.

Like, [BLEEP], you know. That's so-- it's a dated referenced by the time your movie comes out. Like, you're sequelizing "Clerks." Why would you go with a kind of "Naked Gun" type jokey title? And that profoundly affected me, where I was like, they're right.

They're right. Like, that's so hack. Why did I do that? And so I had to actually get it-- fight to get it changed back to "Clerks II" because all the marketing they had built was based around "The Passion of the Clerks."

KEVIN POLOWY: It was a single comment that turned your mind.

KEVIN SMITH: Happens all the time, man. Like, literally. Like, strangers have had more of an impact on me, strangers who I've never met, not even seen their face, just words on a screen, 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.

KEVIN POLOWY: You had obviously already established a universe by its point, the [INAUDIBLE] universe. What did it mean just in general for you to sequelize your first baby at that time, to check back in on those characters?

KEVIN SMITH: "Clerks II" is absolutely my favorite movie. Up until "Jay and Silent Bob" reboot, I think it's my all-time favorite of everything I've ever done because it's following those guys and giving them what they gave me on a personal level. So, like, "Clerks II" was almost me returning the favor because they were going to be stuck in their Mcjobs forever.

Like, there's a moment in "Clerks II" I absolutely love. My favorite moment in anything I've ever done where they're in the jail cells. It's in the third act, and they're kind of getting into an argument. And Dante is just like coming back at Randal being like, what would the great Randal Graves do if he was half the master of his own destiny that I'm supposed to be? And Randal, uncharacteristically, just belts out his deepest dream.

- What the [BLEEP] would the great Randall Graves do if he were have the master of his destiny that I'm supposed to be?

- I'd buy the quick stop and re-open it myself.

KEVIN SMITH: And I remember being in the editing room. And this was before I was a stoner, so I can't even chalk this up to being an emotional mess because I'm a stoner. I was crying in that office by myself 3:00 in the morning editing the movie because I realized, oh my god, this is their moment that they gave me. I didn't realize when I was writing it, but this opens up their entire lives. Like, they'll never be sad again because now they're in charge of their own destiny. And that's kind of what "Clerks III" is about when we get there, which hopefully we'll get there any minute now.

KEVIN POLOWY: Yeah, what is the status on "Clerks III?"

KEVIN SMITH: Pending.

KEVIN POLOWY: Pending.

KEVIN SMITH: But, boy, it'd be a [BLEEP] great-- what a great year to do it, like, the 15th anniversary of "Clerks II." Also I turn 51 in August. That would be great, a great way to start the second half of my life, so we'll see. Fingers crossed.