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Kevin Smith Explains The Real Reason You Can't Stream Or Digitally Purchase Dogma

Writer/director/podcaster/raconteur Kevin Smith has been a fixture in cinema since 1994 when his first feature, "Clerks," helped launch the indie film movement. Since then, the foul-mouthed filmmaker has managed to carve out a niche in the industry with nearly 30 years of pop culture commentary and stoner comedy, garnering him a moderately devout audience. 

Though his movies tend to be fairly harmless, there was one memorable flick that generated a lot of controversies even before its release. Because 1999's "Dogma" was a meditation on Catholicism (Smith grew up Catholic), many people were very unhappy with it. The Catholic League deemed it blasphemous without having seen it, while the more fanatical protested the movie's screenings and sent hate mail and death threats to Smith, as he revealed to the Austin Chronicle.

"Dogma" ended up being one of Smith's more high-profile films, not only because of the controversy, but because the cast was stacked with the likes of Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, and Alan Rickman. Upon release, the film was fairly well-received by critics and fans, while grossing nearly $44 million worldwide against a $10 million budget (via The Numbers). Despite its accolades and publicity, "Dogma" has fallen into relative obscurity. Though plenty of DVDs can be found on eBay, the movie is currently unavailable for streaming or VOD, making it difficult to legally watch it online. So what gives? 

With "Clerks III" in theaters and touring around the United States, Smith has been doing a lot of press to promote the threequel. During an interview with TheWrap, author Drew Taylor asked the director about "Dogma," and Smith provided a lengthy explanation regarding his fourth film's lack of streaming availability.

Kevin Smith tried to buy the rights to Dogma back

Due to the controversy brewing even before "Dogma" was made, Miramax's parent company Disney pressured film producer and Miramax head Harvey Weinstein to halt production on it. Ignoring Disney, Weinstein allowed Smith to produce the flick. Once completed, Disney attempted to dissuade Weinstein again. Disney eventually forbade Miramax from releasing it. As a result, Weinstein personally purchased the rights to "Dogma" and released it through Lionsgate.

Moving forward, after Weinstein's conviction, Smith discovered that "Dogma" was considered for a new DVD release, meaning that Weinstein was attempting to sell the rights. Accordingly, Weinstein asked for a whopping $5 million under the guise that Smith would be involved, which was not the case, as he told lawyers in no uncertain terms that he refuses to work with Weinstein again. 

Eventually, Smith decided to purchase the rights back himself and reached out through his lawyers to make an offer, which Weinstein refused. Smith countered with a higher bid, but Weinstein refused again. Surmising that Weinstein was steadfast on his asking price, Smith relented, reasoning to TheWrap, "Look, I love 'Dogma' as much as the next guy but a) I don't have $5 million and b) that's not what the market bears anymore. We live in a streaming era." Another source would eventually inform the "Clerks" creator that Weinstein was simply unwilling to sell "Dogma" to him. With that knowledge, Smith realized that he was simply out of options. 

Smith would later lament, "What sucks is that he's also sitting his fat a** on my movie. And the right thing to do would have been to sell it back to me even if you didn't want to sell for the price that I first said. Tell us what that price is and sell me my self-expression back."