Kevin Smith's Cop Out wasn't exactly the best-reviewed film of 2010. Even the indie filmmaker's most devoted fans have called Smith's decision to direct the Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan-starring buddy comedy an obvious cash grab. But Smith says that directing Cop Out wasn't a money-driven decision, explaining to his Twitter followers that he actually earned a surprisingly low paycheck for the movie:
Via @doubleplusgeoff “you’d do a lot for your credibility if you’d just come right out & say that CopOut was a ‘gettin paid’ movie” I wish I could. But I actually took an 84% pay cut to make #CopOut – because I wanted to work with BruceWillis. Lots of us did. Tracy got paid more than me, but not much. I also gave BACK half my already-way-less salary to get the film green-lit: there was a budget crunch to get to the $35million the studio wanted, so Marc Platt & I each gave up half our salaries IN ADDITION to the big dip in our quotes we’d agreed to. When all was said & done, we came in way under budget. Final cost: $32mil – $3mil less than we were allotted. Contractually, WB didn’t have to give me the money I gave up until they were in the black, but since we came in under budget, they cut me a check for the re-investment I’d made BEFORE the flick hit theaters. And even then, I still made 80% less than I did on my previous flick. I made MORE as the director of DOGMA in 1998 than I did as the director of COP OUT in 2009/2010. So please: enough with the “you musta got PAID” bullshit. I didn’t. Both my agent & my lawyer were like “Don’t do this. You can get paid more making a Kevin Smith movie.”
Instead, Smith contends that directing Cop Out was a necessary step towards his forthcoming horror movie, Red State, as well as the future trajectory of his career:
But I knew if I wanted to make RedState, I had to make CopOut. There were things I needed to learn, and I learned them – while making a financially responsible buddy cop homage for a major studio, from a script I didn’t write. I’m sorry you didn’t like CopOut; feel free to skip RedState if you feel betrayed in some way. But to suggest I did #CopOut for the money is ludicrous – as it was the least I’ve been paid to direct a film since 1998 – 11 years prior. CopOut may not fit into your KevinSmith narrative, but I know where my story goes – and it was the keystone to everything that RedState is.
The trailer for Red State was one of 2010's creepiest and most effective pieces of promotion for a film, so if Cop Out — a movie that I've actively avoided and will continue to do so without guilt — needed to come out for Smith to have the confidence to create Red State, that's fine by me; I'm not losing any sleep.