If you’re of a certain age and time – namely Generation X, which saw its heyday throughout the early half of the 1990s – then there are few films that are as iconic as director Kevin Smith’s 1994 ode to retail hell, Clerks. Focused on one lone day and night for put upon register jockey Dante Hicks and his video store cohort Randal Graves, Smith unleashed a barrage of early twentysomething angst in his tale of the quiet desperation of that class of people who wake up one day realizing they’re stuck in a dead-end job with no discernible prospects even remotely in sight. Sure, the movie was uproariously funny, but the true success of the film was in some of the basic universal truths that it revealed along the way, helped along by a beautiful and gritty black and white palette essayed by cinematographer Dave Klein. Miramax quickly snatched up the rights to this funny little parable and, over time, it turned a tidy profit off of its shoestring budget, inspiring Smith to explore further the world that Clerks existed in both peripherally (Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, Jay & Silent Bob Reboot) and – reprising more fully the stories of Dante and Randal – directly in 2006 with a sequel, Clerks II and (believe it or don’t) a short-lived ABC cartoon, also titled Clerks, which pursued the animated adventures of everyone’s favorite retail slackers. Oh yeah, and between all of that were a number of comic book tie-ins chronicling the misadventures of Dante, Randal, Jay and Silent Bob. So obviously the concept of Clerks has had major legs thanks to a rabid fan-base and, of course, the derring-do of ringmaster Kevin Smith and his own partner-in-crime, Scott Mosier.
Today, Smith announced the receiving of the coveted Green Light for the concluding chapter in his View Askewniverse, Clerks III. Long threatened by the veteran filmmaker but chronically held up due to script and actor issues, this iteration of the capper in the Clerks saga now officially has a major studio home in the form of Lionsgate, which Smith revealed to fans today had taken global rights to the new film.
“My birthday is August 2,” Smith announced this afternoon on his Facebook page. “And Lionsgate just gave me the best gift I could ever ask for: the money to make another sequel to my debut film! Dante! Randal! Jay! Silent Bob! Becky! Elias! Veronica! Emma! The characters from both Clerks and Clerks II return with me to the scene of the crime at the little store that started it all: Leonardo’s legendary Quick Stop Groceries!”
Smith went on to tease the story of Clerks III: After suffering a heart attack (paralleling Smith’s own heart attack of a couple of years back), Randal decides that he’s going to rise above his station in life to put together an independent film to tell the story of his life with the help of Dante and various and sundry View Askew staples such as Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith).
Set to begin filming later this summer, Clerks III will completely shoot in the director’s home state of New Jersey, also the setting for the first two films in the trilogy.
Clerks is a benchmark for a particular Time and Place; its sequel, while possessing many charms, fell flat for some fans. Here’s hoping that filmmaker Kevin Smith can pull a rabbit out of his backward baseball cap and tap into the zeitgeist of 2021-2022 as successfully – and as painfully hilariously – as he did for 1993-’94. Here’s to you, Clerks III!