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Clerks 3 Release Date, Cast, Script And Spoilers

In 1994, writer/director/actor Kevin Smith established himself as one of the most exciting and original comic talents ever to hit the indie movie scene from out of nowhere. No, like, literally nowhere. He filmed his first feature, Clerks, after hours at the convenience store where he worked during the day, paying for the thing himself by maxing out his credit cards and selling off his comic book collection. It paid off, and Smith became a brand unto himself, with his "View Askewniverse" of connected films — Mallrats, Dogma, Chasing Amy, and the like — winning him a huge and devoted fanbase. 

In 2006, Smith returned to the world of Clerks, giving fans an update on the lives of Quick Stop clerk Dante (Brian O'Halloran) and video store employee Randal (Jeff Anderson), who had moved on to different but still unfulfilling jobs in a fast food joint. Now, more than a decade after that entry (and with a false start along the way), Smith is ready to go back to the store — Clerks 3 is officially happening. Here's everything we know so far.

What's Clerks 3's release date?

The third Clerks won't exactly hit theaters in time for the holidays, nor will it face off against the superhero movie blockbusters of which Smith is so fond in the summer of 2020. It's going to be at least a couple of years before Jay and Silent Bob superfans grab their skullcaps and trench coats and camp out in front of their local movie theater. According to an Instagram post dated October 1, 2019, Smith started writing the script for the third Clerks film on the previous night. A movie can't really go into production until there's a workable script, so that puts the start date out at least a few months past that. 

Moreover, Smith is a major filmmaker and he's extremely busy. The Clerks 3 announcement came amidst Smith's publicity tour for Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, which will first screen in mid-October 2019. Clerks 3 will also have to get pushed down Smith's to-do list because he has a bunch of other previous commitments. He's an executive producer on an upcoming Masters of the Universe television miniseries, and is finishing up and needs to promote some writing/directing projects, including the films Helena Handbag and Killroy Was Here, along with the TV series Sam and Twitch. It's going to be well into the 2020s then, closer to the 30th anniversary of Clerks, before this thing open for business.

Who's in the cast of Clerks 3?

Over the span of a dozen movies spanning the past 25 years, Kevin Smith has built up a world of interconnected characters and locations nicknamed the View Askewniverse (a portmanteau of the name of Smith's production company, View Askew, and "universe," as in "Marvel Cinematic Universe"). While he introduced memorable individuals like commerce-loving misanthrope Brodie Bruce (Jason Lee) in Mallrats and Jesus' overlooked thirteenth apostle Rufus (Chris Rock) in Dogma, Smith returns most often and most thoroughly to his Clerks crew. 

Smith and Jason Mewes have portrayed lovable drug dealers Jay and Silent Bob in nine movies (plus a Clerks animated series). Sometimes they're the focus (as in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Jay and Silent Bob Reboot), but usually, as in Clerks, they're side characters. That will be the case for Clerks 3, Smith promises. The upcoming film explicitly stars Jeff Anderson and Brian O'Halloran, reprising their original Clerks roles of Randal and Dante, respectively. Jay and Silent Bob, Smith notes, are "supporting roles."

It's not the same Clerks 3 from a few years back

If all this news about a Clerks 3 seems a little familiar, it's because this isn't the first time Kevin Smith has announced his intentions to complete his trilogy about dissatisfied low-wage workers. In December 2012, Smith revealed via Twitter that not only would he retire from filmmaking about just one more movie, but that his "last cinematic effort as a writer/director" would be a third Clerks movie. Neither part of that statement turned out to be true — Smith has written and directed a few things since, but only now is Clerks 3 happening. 

So, what went wrong the last time he tried to make this film? One of the movie's two principal cast members wasn't interested. "We need Jeff Anderson, the guy that plays Randal, and he doesn't want to do it," Smith told LRM Online at WonderCon in 2017, more than four years after he told the world he was making Clerks 3. "I can't do it without him. It was written for him. The Randal part is the whole movie."

Who's writing the script for Clerks 3?

By 2019, Jeff Anderson apparently had experienced a change of heart. While he was the party responsible for Clerks 3 not happening in 2012, he's ready and willing to once again play the sarcastic, verbose, and underemployed Randal Graves. And while writer/director Kevin Smith did have a Clerks 3 script ready to go back in the day, he's treating the upcoming effort like a new project and letting any work he did previously fade into the ether. For example, he's not going to revive or rewrite his old Clerks 3 script composed nearly a decade ago. On an Instagram post in October 2019 (with Anderson and Jason Mewes in tow), Smith revealed that he's starting from scratch... and a blank page. "This won't be the old script we almost made a few years back. This is a completely new screenplay," Smith wrote. "And so far, it's like a dream come true!" 

Clerks 3 is based on a true story

In August 2019, Smith lead a live reading in New Jersey of his first stab at a Clerks 3 — without Jeff Anderson, who still didn't want to be involved. Smith realized that if he did ever make another Clerks movie, it wouldn't be one based on that script. "That was a movie that was written by a guy who was obsessed with middle-age and dying, and it was all about death. And that was before I almost died," Smith told The Wrap, referring to the February 2018 massive heart attack that nearly killed him. "Now I just want to do life affirming things. The tone is going to shift completely." Smith feels he owes the characters of Dante and Randal "a lot more than the kind of doom and gloom I was about to put them through" in his original script, which he called a *f***ing tearjerker," and "unbelievably moving and sad." 

Instead, the new Clerks 3 will come full circle in an oddly sweet and meta way. Randal suffers a heart attack and grapples with the notion that he wasted his life. "He comes to the conclusion at mid-life, having almost died, having worked in a movie store his whole life and watched other people's movies, he tells Dante, 'I think we need to make a movie.'" And so, the pair from Clerks set out to make, well, Clerks.

What's the plot of Clerks 3?

The first Clerks (1994) found working stiffs Dante and Randal employed in tedious, dead-end jobs in a convenience store and video store, respectively. 12 years later, Clerks 2 saw the pair working in an outlet of the Mooby's fast food chain. If it's anything like its predecessors, Clerks 3 will depict Dante and Randal working in yet another low-paying sector of the retail service industry. Exactly what they'll be doing and how they'll be doing it remains secret. 

"It'll be a movie that concludes a saga. It'll be a movie about how you're never too old to completely change your life," Smith wrote in an Instagram post. "It'll be a movie about how a decades-spanning friendship finally confronts the future," he added, likely referring to the central Clerks relationship of Dante and Randal's friendship. It's clear that not just Smith's 2018 heart attack, but his long, storied friendship with Jason Mewes have likely both served as thematic inspirations.

That Instagram post contained one more clue about Clerks 3 (and this is no big surprise coming from proud Jersey boy Kevin Smith): "It'll be a movie that brings us back to the beginning — a return to the cradle of civilization in the great state of #newjersey."

Where does Clerks 3 take place?

On February 2, 2020, a purported fan of Kevin Smith's View Askewniverse films known only as "Disco Steve" tweeted at the writer-director with his thoughts on what he thinks should transpire in the upcoming and highly anticipated Clerks III. "Put Dante and Randall at the airport," the fan said, pointing out that such a situation could be a place to mock the myriad "societal quirks that happen at the airport." Smith replied, politely declining the suggestion while also revealing a small but telling nugget of info about the events of the still-in-the-works Clerks III. 

"Clerks III takes place almost entirely at Quick Stop, so no airport stops," Smith wrote. Not only does this mean that Smith's characters won't deal with things like TSA security scans and lost luggage, but that the film will take things full circle back to the setting of the original Clerks from 1994, the New Jersey convenience store manned by Randall (Brian O'Halloran). Apparently the gang has all moved on from working at (or hanging out nearby) the Mooby's fast food outlet of Clerks II.