Kevin Smith says he started thinking about another Clerks film after finishing the 2006 sequel. While he ultimately accomplished the task — Clerks III hits theaters courtesy of Lionsgate in partnership with Fathom Events on Sept. 13-18 — the beloved filmmaker is relieved that it’s not based on his original script.

“It opened on the evening of Hurricane Sandy,” Smith detailed to The Hollywood Reporter ahead of Wednesday night’s premiere at TCL Chinese 6 Theaters in Hollywood. “Dante and Randal were locked in a jail because the original version of Clerks III was the opening of Jay and Silent Bob Reboot where the cops come in and bust Jay and Silent Bob. All of them were arrested and there’s an interrogation scene and somebody comes in and says, ‘We gotta get ‘em out and put them in cells because it’s coming.’ And [the guys] are like, ‘What’s coming?’ ‘They’re calling it Sandy.’ They were locked in a cell all night long and they get out in the morning to find that the Quick Stop was destroyed by a flood.”

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The convenience store casualty causes Randal to have a nervous breakdown and in order to manage it, he heads to a movie theater to wait for a screening of Ranger Danger. The hitch: The film was not scheduled to open for another year.

Randal then waits in line and a crowd forms behind him, “Like a weird movement,” Smith continued. “A village sprouts up in the parking lot of the movie theater. Randal builds a lean-to version of Quick Stop, like a bodega-shanty version, and becomes the unofficial mayor of this town. It was a movie about dealing with grief.”

Smith said the issue with that version of Clerks III was that if audiences saw it, they might think whoever made it had not seen the original 1994 cult classic. “It was so far-flung from Clerks,” he explained. “Mercifully, we never made it. And then suddenly, I had the heart attack and was like, oh, that would be a good backbone for this movie.”

Smith survived a devastating heart attack in 2018, and used the experience to inform the new direction for this version of Clerks III. It follows Randal as he recovers from a heart attack to enlist his pals Dante, Elias, Jay and Silent Bob to make a movie immortalizing his life at the convenience store that started it all.

“It felt like Clerks III had to be at Quick Stop where it all began,” Smith concluded. “That was able to feed everything else and once I gave Randal my heart attack, it was like, well, we will give him the movie as well. Then we were off to the races.”

Marilyn Ghigliotti, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Danny Trejo, Jeff Anderson, Brian O’Halloran, Austin Zajur and Harley Quinn Smith on the red carpet before the screening. Kevin Winter/GA/The Hollywood Reporter/Getty Images

Jason Mewes and producer wife Jordan Monsanto catch up with Lionsgate’s Eda Kowan and Jason Constantine at the after-party held at Teddy’s at the Roosevelt Hotel. Kevin Winter/GA/The Hollywood Reporter/Getty Images

Clerks III Movie Poster Courtesy of Lionsgate

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