Kevin Smith brings cinema’s favorite stoners/slackers back to have some fun with franchise reboots.
It’s been 13 years since writer/director Kevin Smith last visited one of the first major shared cinematic universes of the internet era, The Askewniverse. In that time he’s taken a few side jaunts into crazy horror comedies as well as directing a handful of superhero TV show episodes.
Now he’s back to the characters he introduced in 1994’s Clerks. This week’s new movie Jay and Silent Bob Reboot brings back the popular Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith) in more or less a direct sequel to 2001’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Where that movie had the pair heading to Hollywood to try and stop a movie based on a comic inspired by them from being made, this one has them heading to Hollywood to stop a reboot of the movie based on a comic inspired by them from being made.
The first film poked a bit of fun at the super hero movie genre that was barely learning to walk at that point, certainly nowhere near the heights it would reach several years later. Now he wants to tweak the tendency of studios to reboot franchises ad infinitum. To help with that, Saban Films has run a campaign that’s heavy on humor familiar to Smith’s fans as well as those who have enjoyed all the comic book adventures on the screen in the last dozen years.
Jay and Silent Bob are shown in a very familiar setting on the first poster (from marketing agency BOND), released in July. The two are propped up against a gray concrete wall, indicating they’re still very much committed to their personal brand. Copy tells us “Weed love to tell you a story.”
Two more posters came out in September. The first uses the same “arrange all the main characters around a few key elements from the story” design approach found on many action and sci-fi movies. The second has Jay and Silent Bob back to back like super heroes in a design reminiscent of that used on the character posters from the Avengers: Endgame campaign. That latter one was created as a special giveaway for fans attending select screenings of the film.
A final poster puts drawings of all the characters from the movie – a whole universe of major and supporting players – in the image, all in front of hand-drawn blueprints like Jay uses when planning pranks in Mallrats.
The first trailer (696,000 views on YouTube) – released in July during San Diego Comic-Con – is full of so much meta humor it’s almost overwhelming. We get the message that this is the same general idea as Strike Back and is filled with many of the same jokes, just slightly updated for the nearly two decades since then. Only now everything has an even more meta twist and a whole new series of stars doing cameos in some form or another. A green-band version came out in October.
Online and Social
The official website has lots of information on the roadshow Smith is taking the film on, with screenings at individual theaters across the country, many of which include appearances by Smith and others.
Advertising and Publicity
Smith first teased the project in mid-2017 but it wasn’t until over a year later at the start of 2019 that he announced pre-production had officially begun. Just a short while after that Saban Films announced it had acquired it for distribution.
Beginning in late February Smith launched a series of behind-the-scenes videos tracking production. That’s similar to what he did during the filming of Clerks II, but something filmmakers have gotten away from in recent years after being a popular tactic in the mid-2000s.
A panel for the film was announced for San Diego Comic-Con, a natural setting given Smith’s love of all things pop culture. That panel included the debut of the first trailer.
Fathom Events put out a promotion in September for the roadshow screenings at Regal Cinemas locations.
EW shared a clip in early October offering an extended look at the scene where Jay is introduced to the daughter he never knew he had.
Media and Press
In the last couple weeks both Smith and Mewes appeared on “The Late Show” to talk about returning to the roles and more. The two also made a number of other stops at various media outlets to talk up the movie and generally chat with hosts and sell the return of the Kevin Smith brand.
So…this is what a Kevin Smith campaign looks like without the help of long-time patron Harvey Weinstein backing him.
I’m a little surprised a movie like this isn’t going straight to streaming. The roadshow release Saban is giving it plays to Smith’s strength as an in-person storyteller and helps generate word of mouth to hopefully warrant a more traditional release.
The movie being sold in the campaign *looks* like a Kevin Smith movie, warts and all. Smith has always been a stronger writer than director, and you see that here. Adding a few actors known well for their super hero work is a nice bit of stunt-casting, but nothing Smith hasn’t done to various degrees in the past.
It’s not going to light the world on fire, and it’s certainly not going to compete against major releases coming out this week. But it does look like a return to form for Smith, and it’s nice to see him back to having fun after his recent health scares.
Picking Up the Spare
Smith spoke about how making the sequel allowed him to update and “correct” a plot point in Chasing Amy that hasn’t aged well but which was well-intentioned at the time. A profile of the writer/director also (rightly) categorized his entire career as an act of sheer will.
Saban Films released another short trailer as the movie was beginning its screening tour. It’s not drastically different than the primary trailer, just shorter. That tour was the subject of another interview with Smith where he admitted a massive marketing campaign would have wasted a lot of money chasing a very niche audience.