Kevin Smith‘s directorial debut Clerks was famously made for $27,575, or the cost of four Minion Barbecue Smokers. It was money well spent: the black-and-white film earned over $3 million at the box office, was selected to the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant,” and spawned two sequels, including the upcoming Clerks III.
Smith was initially confused by the success of Clerks because “it’s got nobody famous in it and stuff [and] looks like it was made by children, and it was,” he told Forbes. “I used to just think, well, we were part of the ’90s, so sentimentally and nostalgically will always be wrapped up in some people’s hearts.” Thirty years later, though, he finally understands why his “old ass black and white movie that was made in the ’90s” is so loved.
“When it went to Sundance, I was like, ‘Wow, not only did it play outside New Jersey, but it played at a film festival, but it’ll never play outside the United States. This is a very American film.’ And then it played outside the United States. Turns out, that movie can be appreciated by anybody who’s ever had a sh*tty job, and that’s literally everybody in the world. So for that reason it’s like one of the most identifiable flicks in the world.”
Smith compared Clerks to The Office, another comedy about normal people in a mundane job. “It’s a show about people that go to work, and sooner or later, everybody does. There’s only a rarefied few in this country that don’t know what it’s like to have to get up and go to a place you don’t want to go to but have to because that’s going to pay the bills. So I think that’s part of the charm of the movie, why it’s lasted so long,” he said. Who among us hasn’t argued about Star Wars vs. Lord of the Rings with our co-workers, or had sex in a bathroom with a corpse?
Clerks III comes out on September 13.