Filmmaker Kevin Smith is no stranger to religious scandal. His 1999 film Dogma — featuring two fallen angels and a happy-go-lucky Jesus — had the entire Catholic League up in arms. But unlike Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, which spun a little controversy into record-breaking box-office returns, Dogma barely caused a blip — and Smith has a theory why.
"I wish we put a bloody Christ in our movie instead of the Buddy Christ," he jokes to TV Guide Online. "We would have cleaned up, [too]. Who knew?
"We had death threats and 300,000 pieces of hate mail," Smith continues, "and Bill Donahue on the news every night heading up the Catholic League, rallying against our movie and calling for Disney to drop it — essentially, pitting Mickey Mouse against Jesus Christ." (In the end, Disney-owned Miramax caved and Lion's Gate released the film.)
Smith fears controversy will also hurt his latest flick, the romantic comedy Jersey Girl, which reunites Ben Affleck and ex-love Jennifer Lopez for the first time since Gigli crashed and burned. "I have to accept the fact that [Jersey Girl] will never be a No. 1 film because people are predisposed to think it is a Ben and Jen [vehicle]," he laments. "They are just not going to turn out because they all hated Gigli so much, even though nobody saw it.
"I have the benefit of knowing that the movie is not about those two," adds Smith, referring to the fact that Jersey Girl really focuses on the relationship between Affleck and his on-screen daughter, played by Raquel Castro. "Now if Ben and the kid break up, I've got problems. But then again, if he and the kid date, I've got bigger problems."