Kevin Smith has stated that the reason his 1999 religious fantasy/comedy Dogma isn’t available anywhere to stream is because of Harvey and Bob Weinstein. Despite the rest of Kevin Smith’s filmography being available on a streaming services, Dogma remains a conspicuous blank spot, meaning anyone who wants to watch the film needs to search for alternative methods.
Dogma follows Bartleby and Loki, two fallen angels who enact a plan to return home after discovering a loophole in Catholicism that would allow them reenter heaven, but unbeknownst to them would result in all of existence being unmade via disproving God’s infallibility by defying the deity’s word. Bethany, an abortion clinic counselor who lost her faith years previously, is tasked by the archangel Metatron to stop them, along the way being aided by two prophets (recurring Smith characters Jay & Silent Bob), a muse named Serendipity, and Rufus, a black man and the unrecorded thirteenth apostle. Smith, who was raised as Catholic, used the film to explore problems he had with his own faith, asking questions but not presuming to offer any answers, instead intending audiences to make up their own minds about the issues he raised.
Kevin Smith posted the explanation for Dogma’s lack of availability a tweet after user Mark D Parker questioned it by stating the alternative to be to rip the DVD, and that “I want to give you money and you have T-Rex arms.” As he has done previously, Smith explained that Harvey and Bob Weinstein bought the film personally, outwith the control of any companies they operated, and then licensed it for theatrical and home release. The distribution deals predated the existence of streaming and have now lapsed so cannot be updated, and with it being doubtful that anyone in the film industry will now want to have anything to do with the brothers in the fallout of the scores of allegations against Harvey Weinstein, it will unfortunately most likely stay that way.
Dogma is personally owned by Bob & Harvey Weinstein, who bought the film from Disney in 1999 and licensed it to Lions Gate (for theatrical) and then Sony (for home video). But those deals pre-dated streaming and have lapsed. Bummer, as 2019 is the 20th anniversary of our release. https://t.co/4RyhSDoSka— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) August 30, 2019
As well as being absent from streaming platforms, Dogma has also been unavailable on home media for many years, with online retailers having long since sold out their stock without the film ever receiving a re-release. As a result, the only available copies are sold second hand on online marketplaces that often require import, and whose owners frequently demand extortionate prices, making watching the film an even more complicated and expensive undertaking.
It’s a shame the complexities of rights issues leave Smith with no control over Dogma’s distribution, as he would presumably make the film available in a heartbeat were he able to, and with streaming being how much of media consumption now takes place, the film’s unavailability it is a frustrating absence. November marks twenty years since the film’s debut in cinemas, which would have been perfect timing for an anniversary edition that looks back on the film’s production and the careers of its stars, in particular its central duo of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, who although are now box office draws, at the time were merely “those two guys from Good Will Hunting.” Additionally, as the contemporary US is increasingly required to bend to the will of people’s religious beliefs, the film’s examination of the true purpose of faith could not feel more relevant.
Source: Kevin Smith
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