Filmmaker Kevin Smith took to social media today to reveal the first in a series of promotional images for Clerks III, counting down to the film's official trailer release on Wednesday, giving fans their first look at many of Smith's "View Askewniverse" characters since Clerks II in 2006. In spite of having a major studio distribute the film -- something that Smith has not sought for his last few movies -- the filmmaker is still doing a roadshow tour with the picture, and will put tickets on sale for the first handful of cities when the trailer drops. A second wave of announcements will be made at Comic Con International in San Diego, which also seems like a good place to make an announcement for a broad release, where fans who can't get tickets to Smith's roadshow Q&A sessions can catch the movie anywhere for the price of a ticket.
The teaser image shows a padlock, hanging from the metal shutters over the Quick Stop's front windows. The gum in the locks was Smith's justification for blacking out the windows in the first Clerks -- which he shot in the real convenience store after hours, because that store was where he worked his day job at the time. The store could not be closed during the day for filming, so the windows had to be shut in order to hide the fact that the "day" during which the movie happened was all happening after 10 p.m.
In the opening scene from Clerks, Dante tried the locks to the steel shudders on the windows, and discovered the padlocks to have been filled with gum, preventing them from opening. In practical terms, this is because Smith, who shot the movie on a shoestring budget while actually working at the convenience store, was shooting after hours and had to hide the fact that it was always pitch black outside from the cameras.
In Jay & Silent Bob Reboot, it was finally revealed that Jay and Silent Bob have been regularly putting gum in the lock. As Dante drives up to the Quick Stop and, silently and in the background, tries the lock and then gets visibly annoyed when it doesn't work, Jay turns to Harley and says, "you see that guy? For 25 years, we've been coming here every morning and putting gum in the locks."
"That was a discovery while we were on set, while we're standing out in front of the place," Smith said. "It wasn't even in the script; it was just me standing there and Brian's pulling up in the wide [shot]. And so, I was like, 'Do me a favor, and screw Jay at the line.' And Jay goes, 'Oh, because there's gum in the locks like in Clerks.' And I was like, 'Well-remembered, my friend.'
"It was something that I was like, maybe I can pop it at the tail-end of the movie, and he delivered it so well," Smith continued. "I remember showing it to somebody, and they cracked up. They were like, 'Oh, my God.' And I was like, it does solve an age old fucking mystery. And it just felt like this is the movie to say that. Number one, who knows if we ever get another chance at these, right? But it's just like...to sum up the last 25 years of filmmaking, to have that dude make the confession felt right to me. I was like, 'Of course they did.' It's shocking that it took us this long to figure out who put the gum in the locks."
You can see Smith's tweet below.
The good folks in the @Lionsgate marketing department made a ton of awesome artwork to promote my third @ClerksMovie – so I’ll be sharing a different image each weekday until the *official* poster unveiling alongside the debut of the CLERKS III trailer on Wednesday, July 6th! pic.twitter.com/350XcEbpeR— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) June 30, 2022
The movie, which is set to be distributed by Lionsgate, is Smith's first new feature film since Jay & Silent Bob Reboot, in which Brian O'Halloran's Dante Hicks, the point-of-view character in the original Clerks and its 2006 sequel, Clerks II. That movie was the last time fans got a look at Jeff Anderson's Randal Graves, who appears to be the lead in Clerks III.
Randal, who has always been something of a wish-fulfillment character for Smith himself, is set to suffer a life-threatening heart attack in the movie, as Smith did in real life. It will spur the lifelong slacker to find the one thing he likes better than working retail and making fun of his customers: he's going to make a movie.
A movie about working retail and making fun of his customers, naturally.
There have been a few different ideas for Clerks 3 over the years, with one getting so far that there was a live script reading in 2020. Smith has suggested in the past that the holdout was Jeff Anderson, who is more reluctant to return to the world of Clerks than the rest of the cast. Randal is irreplaceable, though, and without all of the leads on board, Smith has said that it's a non-starter. This time, Smith brings back Marilyn Ghigliotti, who played Dante's girlfriend Veronica in Clerks. She is the rare View Askew lead who has not been seen in another of Smith's movies since, making her return especially significant.
The first Clerks centered on one very bad day in the life of Dante Hicks, a convenience store worker who got called into work on his day off and spent the whole shift dealing with belligerent customers, freak occurrences, a sex-obsessed ex-girlfriend, and his obnoxious best friend, Randal. Clerks II saw Dante ready to settle down and get married -- but secretly in love with someone else, and dealing with the reality that he has one day to decide where his heart lies.
Clerks 3 will be released later this year.