Why Kevin Smith Decided to Include the Coronavirus Pandemic in His ‘Mallrats 2’ Script

The coronavirus pandemic is literally everywhere. The public health crisis has affected the entire world in unprecedented ways. And this extends even to Hollywood. With “social distancing” the priority, movie theaters have shut down, and productions on just about every movie and show have stopped until further notice.

In fact, the coronavirus pandemic is leaving an indelible footprint on our culture. This event will likely remain a touchstone of world history from now on. And while we figured some stories would spin out of the pandemic, few probably expected the trend to begin with Kevin Smith.

Kevin Smith and Jason Lee at the 10th anniversary screening of 'Mallrats'
Kevin Smith and Jason Lee at the 10th anniversary screening of ‘Mallrats’ | Albert L. Ortega/WireImage

The View Askewniverse is back after ‘Jay and Silent Bob Reboot’

Smith rose to prominence in the 1990s with films like Clerks, Chasing Amy, and Dogma. In those early releases, Smith created an interconnected web of characters he dubbed the “View Askewniverse” after his View Askew Productions. But following 2006’s Clerks II, it appeared Smith’s shared universe had met its end.

Then came 2019’s Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. The film — a sequel/reboot of 2001’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back — proved to be a major success, thanks to Smith’s non-traditional distribution methods. And it singlehandedly revived the View Askewniverse characters, including the titular Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith).

But the filmmaker has been trying to reopen his original sandbox for years. After false starts with Clerks III and Mallrats 2, it sounds as if both projects are moving forward once again. In fact, Smith has been using his time in self-quarantine as an opportunity to finish the latter’s script. So naturally, the pandemic has worked its way into his work.

Kevin Smith has been inspired by the current economic changes

On a recent edition of his Fatman Beyond podcast, Smith gave fans a peek into his process. Noting how the coronavirus pandemic will leave a lasting impact on our culture, he felt compelled to include reference to it in Mallrats 2. But the economic impact of the pandemic on retail has made it particularly relevant to his latest project, Smith said.

I was working on Twilight of the Mallrats, the Mallrats 2 script. And so I had just read last night articles about the retail apocalypse, where 2020 was going to be the death knell for a bunch of stores anyway. But the pandemic has escalated that, made it worse, and we’re about to see a lot of big-box stores … just go away forever. That means massive vacancies in malls. So they’re predicting the … entire implosion of malls across America. So, as a guy who’s writing a movie set in a mall, I’m like, “Well that’s useful information for my line of work.”

At this early stage, it’s unclear how prevalent the pandemic will be in Smith’s script. Will the pandemic be a major plot point or just something referred to off-hand by one of the characters? Smith has previously established Jason Lee‘s Brodie Bruce runs a comic book store in the mall. So it’s likely Lee’s Mallrats character will be the one to call out the pandemic.

What’s the status of Kevin Smith’s ‘Mallrats 2’?

Fans eager for more Mallrats might have a bit of a wait ahead of them. Years ago, Smith had announced the project, only for it to stall. Now that the sequel is back in development, there’s still no telling when the project will actually go before cameras.

More likely than not, Smith will make Clerks III his next project. That film too has suffered false starts in the past. But now that Smith has found a new story focus and brought actor Jeff Anderson back into the fold, fans can probably expect him to get moving on that as soon as self-quarantine ends.