‘Clerk’ director Kevin Smith is shopping for his childhood NJ movie show. subsequent? a movie college.

When Kevin Smith was a baby, his father would recurrently let him go to high school in order that they may go to the films collectively.

“Inform them your uncle is useless,” would say their previous man, postal employee Donald Smith.

Wednesday’s matinee was a future film director’s ticket to big-screen wonders.

Finally, the workers of Our Woman of Perpetual Assist, Kevin’s Highlands Elementary College, informs him that there are nonetheless too many useless folks in his household.

Now Smith is making ready to take possession of a neighborhood theater that nurtured his childhood fantasy – the Atlantic Moviehouse within the Atlantic Highlands.

New title: SModcastle Cinemas.

“It is undoubtedly not about an funding deal,” Smith tells NJ Advance Media. “It is about proudly owning just a little piece of my private movie historical past, a constructing that helped construct the filmmaker I might change into.”

Smith says the administrators of “Clerks” and their enterprise companions have signed the contract and are anticipated to shut the century-old First Avenue movie show, previously referred to as Atlantic Cinema.

At a time when film theaters – lower off from streaming and the COVID-19 pandemic – are in want of a lifeline, the filmmaker says he’s fortunately doubling down on the theater expertise. A lot in order that he is actually moving into.


He is additionally taking over an house on high of a five-screen theater.

“I simply turned 52, and I could not consider a greater reward for myself,” Smith, whose movie “Clerk III” will premiere at Crimson Financial institution on September 4, as a part of a director-organised nationwide movie tour, earlier than arriving in theaters nationwide on September 13 and 15.

The Atlantic Highlands Theater is now open, however was beforehand closed beneath pandemic stress.

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot Roadshow

Kevin Smith on the Jay and Silent Bob reboot roadshow tour on the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park in 2019. He is additionally taking “Clerk III” on the street beginning this September at Crimson Financial institution. His massive plans for the Atlantic Highlands Theater embrace filmmakers, followers, and live shows.Rus DeSantis | For NJ Advance Media

Smith’s new title for native fixtures matches his varied different ventures, which in flip take their names from his SModcast podcast which started in 2007. These embrace the SModcast Podcast Community, the SModcast Photos manufacturing firm, and SModcastle, the podcast Theater Smith opened previously 12 months. The identical constructing because the Fast Cease grocery at Leonardo’s.

The comfort retailer rose to fame in 1994 with Smith, a former Fast Cease clerk, in “Clerk” and could be seen once more in “Clerk III”, which was filmed there the earlier summer season.

Smith, whose pure tendency to speak — and speak lots — is the precise reverse of his onscreen alter-ego, Silent Bob, shines concerning the movie show’s 250-seat fundamental auditorium. He compares the place to the Hollywood Improv Comedy Membership in Los Angeles, the place he co-hosted the podcast “Hollywood Babble-On” with Ralph Garman for 10 years.

“I discovered the flexibility to monetize a movie show in a approach {that a} typical movie show cannot monetize itself,” says Smith.

For this, the filmmaker is planning to usher in reside exhibits together with podcast exhibits and script readings. He additionally has designs on filming a film within the theater (extra on that under).

“I understand how to convey one thing to the desk like, ‘Hey, I’ve a movie show. Is not that enjoyable?'” Smith says. “I believe I could make it a thriving enterprise as effectively, bearing no matter expertise I’ve gained over the past three many years.

“I am most likely going to reside within the metropolis much more now due to it.”

He plans to occupy the house house above the movie show, which he calls “each kid’s dream.”

“That is the place I reside once I’m on the town,” Smith says.

The director and his spouse really feel extra free to spend time away from their Los Angeles house as a result of their daughter, actor Harley Quinn Smith, now has a house of her personal.

He already has detailed plans for the theater’s decorations, which he says will function murals “from the Highlands to Hollywood” that may wrap the foyer and have characters from his New Jersey-set View Escape movies, together with “Clerks”. “(1994) included. “Mallrats” (1995), “Chasing Amy” (1997), “Dogma” (1999) and “Clerk II” (2006).

Smith is simply the most recent superstar with ties to New Jersey to step in to avoid wasting a neighborhood theater throughout the pandemic.

Atlantic Cinemas

Atlantic Cinemas, now Atlantic Moviehouse, in 1946. The Atlantic Highlands constructing dates again to 1912.Courtesy of Lenny Edwards

In 2021, “Aquaman” actor Patrick Wilson, who lives in Montclair, grew to become a participant within the effort to salvage it and re-open it as The Bradley on the showroom Cinema Bradley Seashore. The theater is open in “pop-up” mode and is displaying summer season films pending deliberate renovations.

Cinema Lab, the group of movie business professionals behind the mission, additionally operates a movie show at The Village at South Orange Performing Arts Heart, which has hosted performances by “Spider-Man” star Tom Holland.

Close to the concession counter of the Atlantic Highlands Theatre, Smith envisions a collage of New Jersey film stars — Danny DeVito (Asbury Park), Frank Sinatra (Hoboken) and Jack Nicholson (Neptune Metropolis, Spring Lake), to call a number of. For. He likes the concept of ​​a wall of native greats inspiring younger filmmakers who stroll by way of the door.

Atlantic Moviehouse costs are less expensive than multiplex leases. Grownup tickets are $10, youngsters and seniors are $8, matinees are $8 and $7 and discount Wednesdays are $7. The theater exhibits first-run films: This weekend’s lineup is “Bullet Prepare,” “DC League of Tremendous-Pets,” “Easter Sunday” and “High Gun: Maverick.”

Smith not solely needs to indicate the large films of the day – he plans to welcome filmmakers as effectively.

“My dream is to convey Martin Scorsese to that theater as a result of that is the place I noticed ‘Goodfellas,'” Smith says of the acclaimed director, whose feedback about Marvel films began a debate about whether or not these films have been “cinemas.” “Are or not.

Smith, who has maybe change into as well-known for being an expert fan as he’s for making films, praises Marvel movies like “Spider-Man: No Manner Residence” (he says it received the Greatest Image award). Ought to have been nominated for an Oscar) ) He says he intends to host particular screenings of superhero films in a full-fledged theater.

“We expect it is a music venue too,” he says.


Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson as Dante and Randall in “Clerks” (1994), the primary of Smith’s Vue Escuniverse movies. He plans to embellish the movie show foyer with a few of his characters.Miramax

The filmmaker, a Crimson Financial institution native who grew up within the Highlands, lives on the West Coast however does not reside removed from New Jersey for lengthy.

Smith, who owns Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, a comic book e book retailer in Crimson Financial institution, was at The Atlantic Moviehouse on August 2 to have a good time his 52nd birthday. Along with fellow Highlands-to-Los Angeles man Jason Mewes, his pal onscreen and off, they hosted the present “Jay and Silent Bob Get Outdated” on the theater to mark the mixed 100 years of existence (that is what it was). Which is what you get if you happen to add Mawes’ 48 to Smith’s 52).

Whereas they have been there, Smith toured the property, which occupies two buildings at 82 First Avenue.

However he is been eager about it for for much longer than that.

“You get to shoot a whole-*ss film in a movie show,” he remembers pondering.

It isn’t even a deal but, and Smith has already completed a screenplay impressed by the acquisition. It takes place within the Nineteen Eighties of his youth and is ready in theatre.

Ashley DeGenero is one among Smith’s enterprise companions on the movie show along with her hometown mates Jeff Swanton and Ernie O’Donnell, who co-own Smodecastle in Leonardo.

“It is so essential to maintain these ‘mother and pop’ locations out of your childhood nonetheless alive,” says DiGenaro.

O’Donnell was the primary to say that the buildings have been on the market. They have been in search of a spot to host one of many newest additions to Smith’s repertoire—the Smodecastle Movie Pageant, after receiving almost 1,000 movie submissions, way over they anticipated for the 48-seat Smodcastle. There was already a connection: In Might, Atlantic Moviehouse hosted Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash twenty fifth Anniversary Celebration Q&A.

“For me and Ernie, it is like going again to grad college, going again to highschool, proudly owning a movie show,” says Smith, an alum at Henry Hudson Regional Excessive.

Though Smith is planning further makes use of for the crew house, the theater’s main perform will proceed to indicate movies.

DiGennaro needs to convey again the time when “going to the films was a deal with.”

They’re going to most likely lean into the retro look and the constructing’s personal lengthy historical past, she says, which predates the 101-year-old movie show. As of now there aren’t any plans to shut the theater for renovation.

DeGenaro, who lives in New Metropolis, New York, had met Smith by way of a private autograph about 4 years earlier. She is the co-owner of Leelu Multiprop, a enterprise that indicators and defends and restores film props along with her husband, Joseph DeGenero. A few of his finds: a prawn hand from “Beetlejuice” and a helmet from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

jay and silent bob

Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith as Jay and Silent Bob. The previous drug vendor character owns a weed store in “Clerk III”. Lionsgate/YouTube

“They’ll convey props from all these films,” says Smith. “I am bringing in all this paintings from all my films and stuff.”

DeGenero grew to become mates with Smith and informed O’Donnell that he was involved in investing within the director’s initiatives.

About 10 minutes later, she acquired a message from Smith.

“She’s sensible at self-marketing,” she says, pointing to her movie excursions (she calls her the “Iron Maiden” of the circuit for good gross sales) and “self-contained universe.”

DeGenaro says that whereas Smith & Co. will personal the theater buildings, every day operations will nonetheless be held by present theater house owners.

Tony Zartuche and Susan Zartuche took over as house owners of the Atlantic Highlands Theater final summer season, as Two Rivers Occasions beforehand reported.

The present constructing’s proprietor Fred Rast, a former mayor of Atlantic Highlands who was as soon as an usher on the theatre, closed Atlantic Cinemas within the fall of 2020. The longtime theater proprietor made the choice to promote after the necessary shutdown. of the pandemic, which closed the cinema corridor from March 2020 to September 2020. In June 2021, Zartuches, as an alternative of buying two of Rust’s buildings for a worth of $2.6 million, entered right into a two-year lease with Rust, which retained possession of the theater’s buildings.

The theater that may change into The Atlantic Moviehouse (Zartuches modified the title) opened in 1921. Leonard “Lenny” Edwards assumed possession in 1961 and the brand new multiplex defied native competitors.

Later, the venue made its second display screen debut as Atlantic Twin Cinema.

“It was big information in our world,” Smith recollects. “It’s important to bear in mind, we did not have cable or web again then.”

After that, it grew to become Atlantic Triplex, then Atlantic Cinema 5. Edwards died in 2012, and Rast stored the theater open till the pandemic hit. They briefly reopened the venue after the state shutdown was lifted in October 2020, however the injury was completed.

Trying forward, Smith is not stopping at a movie show, or perhaps a film primarily based in a movie show. He needs to construct a movie college from the house base of SModcastle Cinemas.

However not simply any movie college: Jay and Silent Bob’s View AskUniversity.

The director says that he is not going to train the best way to make movies. Their aim is extra particular. He needs to show folks to make J&Silent Bob films. He says he might begin out subsequent summer season with directing in movie shorts as a camp.

“Individuals all the time ask them in Q&A: ‘How do I get began? How do I do what you do?'” DeGenero says. “This is your alternative to study from him.”

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Amy Kuprinsky could be reached right here akuperinsky@njadvancemedia.com and adopted @amicoup on Twitter.

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