Kevin Smith's Mallrats turns 25 this year and to commemorate this milestone anniversary, the cult-classic is getting a Blu-ray special edition release full of special features, including what for fans of the film is a real treasure: the newly assembled TV cut of Mallrats, complete with hilarious overdubbing to cover up profanity. The actual network broadcast of the film is itself a thing of legend and now Smith is explaining how the infamous broadcast of Mallrats came to be -- and says it is all because of Ben Affleck starring in Armageddon.
First, a little context. Mallrats wasn't exactly a box office smash. As Smith recalled during a recent interview with ComicBook.com, the film brought in just $400,000 its first night in theaters -- a number that sealed the film's fate as a flop. However, on August 29, 1998 the film got something of an unusual second life as part of ABC's "Saturday Night Movie" series. Because the time slot for that series needed the film to be rated TV-PG, it required some edits and some dubbing -- none of which was done by the original actors in the film.
"It's so awesome. They went and did the work to get it because it wasn't easy, but everyone felt like come on, how do we do like a definitive release without it and that was born out of Jason Mewes' absolute lazy," Smith said. "Jason Mewes was supposed to go up to the city and loop his lines, you know, they take out the curse lines. And he was supposed to do his own lines. And he didn't go up to the city twice, he canceled out."
He continued, "So finally, in the engineering room, up in New York City, they were just like, 'you know what, like, we just need anybody to do this voice like you jump in the booth.' And they got a kid that worked in the office, who was like young and kind of skater-ish to approximate Jay's voice. So, the movie is trippy to watch. Not for the least of which because they got to take out all the curses, but every time Jay curses, like Jay has two completely different voices in the movie. And every time he curses he sounds like somebody else altogether."
But as for how the film ended up even being shown ABC in 1998? They have Affleck to thank for that, sort of. Affleck was one of the stars of the hit 1998 film Armageddon with the film making him a leading man in Hollywood. According to Smith, it was the popularity of Armageddon that led to Mallrats getting a broadcast release due to Affleck having a role in the film.
"So, it's nice to be able to include that as a part of the movie's history, like, that cut only exists because Armageddon happened. Yeah, like Ben was in Armageddon and I remember the TV promo, like somebody called us and they were like, 'ABC picked up Mallrats' and we were like, 'why?' And they're like 'yeah, they're gonna like, bleep it and they're gonna show it' and I was like, 'why?' And they're like 'because Affleck is in Armageddon. And so, the promo they put up destroyed me and [Scott] Mosier. We were always laughing at it because it was like 'before he saved the world from an asteroid, Ben Affleck was at the mall!'"
Fans can check out the broadcast television cut of Mallrats on the limited-edition two-disc Blu-ray set from Arrow Video which features a number of bonus features, including a new introduction to the TV cut of Mallrats by Smith, miniature copies of the blueprints used by Jay and Bob in the movie, and much more.