I am a fan of Kevin Smith, the filmmaker not the dead actor from Xena Warrior Princess. His story of making CLERKS was inspirational for an entire generation of filmmakers, me included. The legend of making a film for $26,976 on credit cards lives on, but of course I have never used credit cards to make a film.
Kevin Smith’s rise to fame (at least with fan boys) happened in an era of the 1990’s where those circumstances do not exist today. There are so few movies with no name stars and the ability to look past surface to find substance is practically nonexistent, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY notwithstanding, as in those odds are so astronomically against repeating versus the annual sales and eventual theatrical release of no name star movies from Sundance every year during the 1990’s.
Now, Kevin Smith is about to release his first feature film from a major studio outside of one owned by the Weinstein’s since the 1995 release of MALLRATS, which was released by GRAMMERCY PICTURES, and indie division of UNIVERSAL, and sadly, as great as that movie was, it bombed at the box office.
I have a hypothesis as to why Kevin Smith is directing a movie called COP OUTwith Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan without his consistent producer Scott Mosier and without having written the script himself. He has to, if he wants longevity. The percentage of people who know who Jay & Silent Bob is pretty low compared to Bruce Willis and John McClane. A Hollywood movie reaches more people than a typical Kevin Smith movie, as much as the circle of friends I know are well versed in Askew language arts.
First off, given Kevin Smith’s penchant for being open and honest, especially on the college lecture circuit, this is apparently considered a crime in Hollywood. No one tells secrets, and even fewer tell the truth. The way he told stories of Prince, Jon Peters, Die Hard 4, Ben Affleck, and Tim Burton have probably made him a high risk to work with on bigger budgeted movies. Hollywood movies have sunk on bad press or any kind of negativity, and heads have rolled. Given the podcasts (or smodcasts if you prefer), Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace updates, not even taking into account his own site(s), Kevin Smith has very few secrets. This is the bane of a Hollywood Studio’s marketing department. They want total control over the films they produce and pay for. Kevin Smith has been unbelievably quiet about anything to do with his current feature, as in no dirt of any kind. Someone wants to play nice with the big studios, and that’s NOT a bad thing or a slam.
Secondly, after the financial loss of MALLRATS at the box office (even though it has more than made up for that via home video/DVD sales in every form), no other studio by Miramax (under the Weinstein’s) and the Weinstein Company (also under the Weinstein’s) would touch him. Bob and Harvey saw the potential in a long term relationship with Kevin Smith. They also saw a cult following which equated to a high profit, low investment opportunity in most of his films.
The downside is that given the circumstances, Kevin was locked into a near permanent situation with the Weinstein’s. Other companies are too afraid to take a chance on him both because of his honesty and volume, and the box office take on his last several movies. Even Clerks II made a profit, but the big studios want more than a profit ratio; they want to make tens of millions in profit. So that left Kevin Smith in a situation where if Bob and/or Harvey Weinstein didn’t like a movie he wanted to make, it probably wouldn’t get made.
After acting in LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, and earning favor with Bruce Willis, combined with The Weinstein Company’s major decline in cash and production, these circumstances opened the door for COP OUT (formerly titled A COUPLE OF DICKS). Working with a more typical Hollywood budget, a lot less creative control, and yet with all the responsibility if it doesn't do well, Kevin Smith is now working for WARNER BROTHERS, and depending on the box office, may or may not get to continue making movies.
It’s my guess that this is Kevin Smith’s chance to get out from under the thumb of the Weinstein’s and insure he has a filmmaking future beyond View Askew, and might never have to be Silent Bob ever again…
But it is use a hypothesis. I will keep any opinion I have over the trailer to myself. I’m not a film critic.