Kevin Smith protests the Westboro Baptist Church.
First there was the hype, then there was the letdown, and now, a day after Kevin Smith screened his latest film, RED STATE at Sundance, there is the residual anger. On Sunday, the CLERKS writer-director stunned audiences and film buyers alike by announcing that he was not, as promised, going to auction off the distribution rights to RED STATE, a movie he touted as a “horror movie” inspired by Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps.
Instead, Smith bought the rights himself, for twenty bucks, and said that in an act of anti-studio-system protest, he’d sell his own film, starting things off with a 15-city tour this summer. Smith’s disingenuousness was made all the worse by the overload of characteristic Smith hype that preceded RED STATE’s screening. (The protest/counter-protest outside the Eccles Theater being just one piece of his elaborate fabric.) Not helping matters is that the film, though loved by certain Smith die-hards, is generally considered a disappointment.