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Kevin Smith Says Harvey Weinstein Held Back Royalties For Clerks

April 12, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
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Kevin Smith’s career began by working with Harvey Weinstein, and in a new interview he says Weinstein refused to pay royalties on Clerks. Smith spoke with Variety discussing his now-on-hold documentary Clerk which examines his personal and professional life, during which Smith says he never would have worked for Weinstein had he known about the producer being a sexual predator.

Smith, who previously said that Weinstein tried to get on his good side a week before the claims against the producer went public by floating the idea of a Dogma sequel, revealed that Weinstein refused to pay promised back-end royalties for the film by claiming that it hadn’t yet hit a profit margin. You can see highlights from the discussion below:

On discussing Harvey Weinstein in the documentary: “The Harvey part of the doc was one of the last things that made it into the movie. I remember the first pass of the movie. It was wonderful. But there was no mention of him. And there was an idea that maybe the story will be over at that point and does it need to be part of your story? But having watched the doc without any mention of him in it, it felt like — well, whitewashing. It felt like something was missing. You can’t tell this fairy tale story without mentioning the monster. And so that interview came afterwards. I think it would be weird if we didn’t mention him.”

On not being paid what he was owed by Weinstein for Clerks: “He was notorious for that. I did encounter that. And I’m still out money. But you got to understand, I never cared about the money. My whole career, my reps were like: ‘You’re supposed to be making far more.’ Money’s never been a motivator for me. This much I know. They bought Clerks for $227,000. And the movie went out and made $3 million at the box office and stuff. And it took seven years for us to see any profit from that movie. For seven years, they were like: ‘Nope, the movie is still not in profit.’ And we were like ‘How?’…

“I remember John Sloss, my lawyer, being like, ‘This is nuts. We have to audit them.’ And I said, ‘No, I can’t audit people I’m in business with. That’s gross.’ And we never audited them for years until after Clerks 2. And then we audited them years later and got a bunch of money. If I was a better business person, I would have gone for more money. But it felt like – ‘Oh, there it is. That’s their process. Movie math.’ And, to be fair, I worked at studios and they have way more paperwork and you can see where every dime is going. But the nature of this business is everybody wants to keep as much money as they possibly can.”

On why he kept working for Weinstein after that: “Because I got paid upfront for each movie. Believe me, I ain’t crying poor. And I got ridiculous escalating salaries. By the time I did ‘Zack and Miri Make a Porno,’ I think I made between $5 or $6 million. So come on, that’s ridiculous. But that was my salary. Upfront money was so good. I was never like, ‘Hey man, where’s those nickels and dimes on the back end?’ And perhaps that’s why they kept making movies with me, even though my movies weren’t box-office profitable. Home video, they were goldmines. That’s really why they kept me around.”