by: S. Soctt Stanikmas – Senior Staff Writer
For quite some time now there have been reports that Kevin Smith would be doing a sequel to Mallrats. He’s been wrangling up pretty much everyone from the original film and even pushed back Clerks 3 because he found an excellent shooting location that was time sensitive (in this case a mall that’s been scheduled for demolition).
But it would seem that getting this movie made has a few more bumps in the road then Smith predicted. Recently the director appeared on the Preston & Steve Show at WMMR and he talked about getting the film started and then the roadblock that Universal threw in his way:
The way I do things is I start talking about them until they’re true. So when I started talking about Mallrats , there was nobody involved except me. Then I brought the cast together and then the script and everything. And the one component that was missing was Universal, the studio. I called my agency and I said, “Hey, man, can I just make a Mallrats sequel? Universal owns it. Do I really need to make it with Universal? Can I just write a script and maybe buy the title from them or something?” The agent told me, “Yeah, absolutely. They’ll let it go.” And I was like “Are you positive? I don’t want to start this and that’s not the case.” And he’s like “Yeah, there’s three ways in which you can make this movie. You finance it yourself, you finance it with the studio, or they finance it. But since it’s an old movie and it’s a very small title, it’ll probably be you financing it yourself.” Right on. Fantastic. That’s what I like to hear. Nobody can stop me from self-expressing.
So I wrote my script, put everything together, and then I was like, “I’m ready to go. Do I have to reach out to Universal for approval or something? Or let them pass or whatever?” And he’s like “Yeah, we have to submit the script.” And I’m like “Why do we have to submit the script?” And he says, “Because they own the property and it’s a formality. It’s gonna be fine.”
So we submitted the script, and my agent comes back to me and he goes, “Well, apparently Universal has never let a catalog title go. Any title they own, they’ve retained. They’ve never done something where they’ve been like, oh, you can take it back and go make a sequel. Never in the history of the studio.” And I was like “Wait, you told me that was one of my options.” And he said, “Well, apparently I was wrong. So right now there’s two options, you make it fully, the studio finances it or you co-finance it with the studio.”
So we entered into a protracted negotiation with Universal, trying to get it made in different pockets of the studio. And I haven’t told anybody this, so I guess this is kind of an exclusive…it is happening, but it’s just taking a longer time to build it. What we did was reconfigured it. Mallrats is a 20 year old movie. And the idea of sequelizing a 20 year old movie, some people are just like “Why would you bother? It wasn’t successful the first time. What did you make the first time, $2 million? I don’t know if the world is screaming out for this.”
First off, that agent sounds like they really half-assed this and figured maybe this was a project Kev was just going to talk about and never get off the ground. But this is the same guy who off-handedly brought up making a film about a guy in a walrus suit and wound up making Tusk, so anything is game with him.
But fate intervened in the form of The Flash. Smith recently directed an episode of the hit CW superhero show and blew away fans and critics (myself included as a huge fan of the show). So that led to (amongst other things) the Mallrats sequel being serialized for the small screen:
However, I went and directed an episode of The Flash last season, I loved doing it, I get to go back in August and do another one. But when I went up there, that was kind of a weird game changer in my career. Apparently that’s like the best work I’ve done in a long time. Not just the internet but the press were like :This is the best thing he’s ever done.” So I felt at home in the medium. Because I did the episode of The Flash, MGM reached out about Bucakroo Bonzai, and suddenly that came together we went out and pitched yesterday and found a home for it. I can’t say who it is yet since we don’t have a finalized deal yet. But we sold Buckaroo Bonzai yesterday.
While I’m in that world and space, a couple months ago, we started reconfiguring the idea of doing Mallrats not as a film, but as a series. Universal and I are just about to close our deal to do Mallrats the series, and then we take it out into the world and find a home for it. So instead of doing a Mallrats movie, I’m gonna do 10 episodes of a Mallrats series.
Word has it Smith has been watching Mad Men for tips on how to handle large ensemble casts for TV and the Jump Street series of films for where R-rated comedies are skewing these days. Mad Men meets Jump Street? If anyone can make an absurd combo like that work it would be Kevin Smith.
No word yet on when production starts but I’d assume soon, as the Exton Square Mall in PA is still likely scheduled to be demolished. We’ll keep you up to date as we get more word on the project as it progresses.