Dogma – a 1999 fantasy comedy film that was written and directed by Kevin Smith and garnered an enraged response from the world – is apparently under the captivity of Harvey Weinstein, the notorious former film producer who found himself amidst numerous sexual assault allegations in 2017 and then, in 2020, was ultimately convicted of committing sexual crimes.
In a recent interview, Smith opened up about the film and the reasons why it is not available for streaming on digital platforms.
The obscure, satirical premise was centered around the themes of Catholicism, which did attract a heated reception from many people, including the Catholic League who deemed it blasphemous. Dogma starred notable industry names of contemporary times, such as Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, George Carlin, Chris Rock, etc. The film fared well at the hands of cinema critics, who favored its comedic, eccentric flair.
In the present-day scenario, it would be really difficult for viewers to enjoy the premise of the Smith-penned film. Its existence in the digital streaming sphere is non-existent. The only remnants of the film can be found on secondary websites in the form of an overpriced Blu-ray DVD. The reason behind this was elaborated by the notable podcaster, YouTuber, and filmmaker.
Dogma And Its Connection With Harvey Weinstein
When sitting on an interview with The Wrap, Kevin Smith got asked the question of why Dogma is a film that lacks a streaming presence. To this, the director of Clerks mentioned a name that according to him, “nobody wants to hear anymore.” The story, as detailed by the writer, went something like this: Before the production of the 1999 film even began, the-then CEO of Disney Michael Eisner had presented several reasons as to why the release of the movie would be too controversial and unfavorable.
Here’s how Harvey Weinstein comes into the picture. The Disney CEO had affirmed strongly, telling the producer to “not make Dogma.” While Weinstein had agreed to it initially, he backtracked and proceeded forward with the film.
Before the production began, the script and the premise were a cause of contention. This resulted in Eisner once again forcing Weinstein, who was the head of Miramax, into selling off Dogma. One thing led to another and Weinstein ended up purchasing the rights to the Smith-led endeavor. The film, then, saw its release through Lionsgate. The movie fared well, accumulating $44 million at the box office.
All was going well. A special-edition DVD transformed into an astounding Blu-ray. What else could Smith ask for?
Unfortunately, as stated by the Tusk director, “the rights lapsed.”
The Unfruitful Battle Over Dogma’s Rights
For years on end, Kevin Smith felt neglected by Miramax and Harvey Weinstein. “I don’t think he realized that he still owned that movie,” said the filmmaker. A few years later, something intriguing happened. Smith was contacted by the former producer and Miramax founder. It was 2017, a week before the legal controversy that engulfed Weinstein into the flames of denunciation and reprimand.
On this call, Weinstein had brought up Dogma and what Smith wanted to do with it. Initially, the Cop Out director was excited about having his endeavor remembered after an entire decade. The then oblivious Smith, who was envisioning follow-up ideas to the 1999 film, did not anticipate what was about to happen within a week.
The heinous actions committed by Weinstein broke into the world and to say, people, including Kevin Smith, were appalled would be an understatement. The director attested to how he felt “guilty by association,” as he was left completely in the dark despite having known the infamous producer. Ultimately, what Smith figured out was that:
“I’m guileless, 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 hadn’t, because I didn’t know any of that stuff.”
Following this, several years later, the Tusk director got to know of a new Dogma DVD planning to make its way into the universe. This, however, meant that Weinstein was trying to sell the rights to the 1999 film for a staggering amount of $5 million in return. Furthermore, the producer was attempting to do such a thing by alluding to how Smith would be a part of the DVD release. The entire interaction took place with the help of lawyers.
Smith had asked his lawyers that he wanted nothing to do with Dogma if Weinstein was still affiliated with it. The podcaster tried gaining back the rights, which he “felt very dirty about” as he was not looking forward to giving the ill-famed and dishonorable man any money. However, Smith felt protective about Dogma, as it was his movie, his creative endeavor to begin with.
Following is an excerpt of what Kevin Smith said about the situation in the interview:
“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.”
While the cult classic director made an effort to purchase back what was rightfully his, Weinstein merely showed the cold shoulder. The lawyers upped the bid. The producer refused, once again.
“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. We live in a streaming era. The last I heard was from a different company, saying he wouldn’t sell me my movie back,”
Such an outcome had left the director and writer no other choice. His “movie about heaven” was officially “in limbo.”
The Conclusion To The Conflicting Matter
All Smith could say to conclude the frustrating affair was how disheartening it is for a film that was a product of his self-expression to be held hostage by Harvey Weinstein – of all people. However, the director also attested to how, while an unfortunate event, the dubious state of Dogma cannot be compared to the traumatic experiences Weinstein’s victims had to face.
To finish it off, the following is what the YouTuber, author, director, and eccentric visionary said:
“What sucks is that he’s also sitting his fat a** 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 it for the price that I first said. Tell us what that price is and sell me my self-expression back.”
The Dogma situation remains murky and contentious. While the director had to give up on the streaming future of the 1999 film and possible follow-up series and sequel opportunities, this is a simple blip on the face of his filmography and career. Fans of the filmmaker can look forward to his latest projects instead.
Clerks III, directed by Kevin Smith, is out in theatres now.
Source: The Wrap