Miramax, Disney Dogged by "Dogma"

Weinsteins acquire rights to would-be controversial film to spare parent company

By Marcus Errico Apr 08, 1999 10:00 PMTags
The Mouse roared...and Miramax blinked.

In an attempt to shield the Walt Disney Co. from potential backlash over the upcoming satire Dogma, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, cochairs of the Mouse-owned "indie" studio Miramax, have decided to form their own company to acquire the film.

The brothers Weinstein personally will shell out about $10 million for the rights to Dogma, then find another studio to distribute the Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy) flick.

"Disney is a target that's too vulnerable in a situation like this," Harvey Weinstein says in the Los Angeles Times. "They make family movies, and a protest could hurt them unnecessarily...We said, 'If this is a corporate problem for [Disney], let's solve it for them.' "

Of course, Disney has been skewered in the past thanks to Miramax fare like Priest (a gay priest drama) and 1995's Kids (a gritty take on sex- and drug-obsessed teens).

Now, several religious organizations, including the protest-happy Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights (the group that has picketed Disney-run ABC's now-defunct Nothing Sacred and Fox's Ally McBeal over supposed anti-Catholic antics), are grousing over Dogma.

Miramax describes the film as "an adult fairy tale, a fantastical journey about a lone hero [Linda Fiorentino] joined by a band of misfits [Chris Rock, Salma Hayek and Jason Mewes and Smith doing their Jay and Silent Bob shtick]" who try to save the world from two fallen angels (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck). Alanis Morissette plays a skeeball-loving God.

"Dogma was from first to last always intended as a love letter to both faith and God almighty," Smith says in a statement that calls him a practicing Catholic.

"It's mind-bending...that anyone would still attack a work that has yet to see the light of day without having seen it themselves."

According to Smith's Website (www.viewaskew.com), Dogma is slated for an October release.