Very few people have stood by Harvey Weinstein since he was accused by numerous women of sexual misconduct — some allegations of which led to a 23-year prison sentence, which in turn led him to test positive for COVID-19. Since his sentencing, those who’ve worked or at least met him have shared stories; Ron Perlman recently shared an amusing one. Now Kevin Smith is claiming the fallen producer still owes him royalties on his debut 1994 feature, Clerks.
In a new interview with Variety (as caught by Entertainment Weekly), Smith revealed that Weinstein — who, along with his brother Bob, bought Clerks and distributed it from their initial company Miramax — wound up short-changing him.
“He was notorious for that. I did encounter that. And I’m still out money,” Smith told Variety. Still, he’s not that upset. “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.”
That said, Smith still noticed that he was short some bucks. “This much I know. They bought Clerks for $227,000,” Smith said. “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?’ And then there were things.”
Smith even claimed Weinstein billed the Clerks team for a yacht rental they wound up using for Pulp Fiction’s Cannes Film Festival debut. ” There was a yacht, the Miramax yacht, it was called. That’s where all the stars were. But that yacht wasn’t for us,” Smith said. “When the festival was over, we got the financial statement. They had taken the entire Cannes bill, everything they spent in Cannes, and just chopped it up into four and Clerks was charged as much as Pulp Fiction. So we all paid an equal share. 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.”
For the record, Smith said he did eventually get some payment, but not all he was owed. “If I was a better business person, I would have gone for more money,” Smith said. “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.”
And yet Smith kept working with Weinstein — on Chasing Amy, on Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, on Jersey Girl, and, one last time, on Zack and Miri Make a Porno.
“Believe me, I ain’t crying poor,” Smith said. “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.”