After years of development, the snootchiest of ’90s bootchies will finally return to theaters this September. Writer and director Kevin Smith unveiled the first look at Clerks III on Wednesday via a two-minute trailer, though you’ll have to look at some fine print to figure out exactly when and where you might get to watch this feature-length film.
The core cast featured in 2006’s Clerks II returns to modern-day New Jersey, once again relegated to a building that houses both a convenience store and a video rental shop. The latter has adapted to a modern video-streaming world, at least, with a massive “THC” indicator poorly taped over the original sign—and longtime series jesters Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith) seem fine hanging out in front of this adjusted storefront for some reason. But time hasn’t been kind to Randal (Jeff Anderson), as the trailer shows him suffering a heart attack and questioning a life spent watching movies all day.
“What am I, a hack?”
“I always thought you could’ve made a cool movie,” his longtime pal Dante (Brian O’Halloran) points out in an emergency room. The duo then spends the rest of the trailer trying to produce a movie inside of the adjacent shops they work at, apparently assisted by a new-to-the-series pair of goths. These two new youngsters ask what the movie’s about, only to be told, “It’s about him working here.” One goth replies flatly, “Meta.”
The two-minute trailer focuses largely on the fictional movie-within-the-movie production, complete with celebs like Ben Affleck and Sarah Michelle Gellar reciting lines from the original film. It also includes a ton of pop culture pot-shots, though these mostly come as background details that you’ll have to pause the trailer to examine, such as the return of a fictional, Marvel-mocking comic book character named Ranger Danger previously seen of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. We see only a hint of the film’s leading duo running into creative conflict when Randal suggests that the fictional version of Dante die after being shot (as a rewrite of the events of the first clerks film). When Dante protests about being written out of potential sequels, Randal retorts, “A sequel? What am I, a hack?”
It’s hard to tell exactly how the rest of the existing supporting cast will figure into the plot. Becky (Rosario Dawson) briefly sidles up to Dante at one point, and Jay and Silent Bob mostly clown around while being described in the narration as the neighborhood’s “R2-D2 and C-3PO” in order to make jokes at Star Wars‘ expense. However the film plays out, Smith previously described it as “the conclusion to a saga,” which suggests something resembling closure for the clerks series. (Though, honestly, we would’ve never bet money on Clerks III being made, so who’s to say Clerks IV: Snootching into Retirement might not happen someday?)
Followers of Smith are likely aware that this sequel has been gestating for a while, though it was held up in part by Anderson resisting a return to the series. In an interview with a fan late last year, Anderson joked that he needed to be “worn down” by Smith over a span of eight years before agreeing to this sequel and its script. Perhaps Smith needed those years to get the script into a condition that would bring Anderson back as an actor, as an older draft of Clerks III, which was read aloud to fans at a special 2019 event, was rumored to be much darker in tone than what we’re seeing in this week’s new trailer. (Attendees were forbidden from disclosing the older script’s details, and Smith has suggested the reading, which was recorded, will eventually be released for wider consumption at a later date.)
We hope your Tuesday, Thursday nights are clear
Should US moviegoers want to visit their favorite nearby multiplex to watch the conclusion of Smith’s View Askewniverse trilogy, they’re stuck with a weird two-night run: Tuesday, September 13, and Thursday, September 15. Clerks III is apparently being handled by Fathom Events for its limited nationwide theatrical run, which means it’s relegated to the same distribution network typically reserved for opera broadcasts and Studio Ghibli marathons.
Series fans in select American and Canadian cities have a fan-service opportunity to see the movie in theaters, as well. During September and October, Smith will host a series of screenings across the US with a pit stop in Vancouver, BC. Since these screenings will include Smith appearing in person to answer fans’ questions, tickets are much more than an average cineplex; the film’s September 4 premiere in New Jersey has base-level tickets exceeding $100 as of press time. Also as of press time, neither Smith nor Lionsgate has confirmed plans for easier Clerks III access via streaming or video-on-demand services.