Today I want to write about an experience I had over the weekend, at the first Kevin Smith event at his new movie theater in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey - the very same theater his father took him to growing up, and the very same theater he got a handjob during a screening of 'Labyrinth' in 1986, according to the man himself - since he became the official owner.
Now, to rewind a bit - yes, Kevin Smith just became the owner of his childhood movie theater in Jersey!
The Atlantic Moviehouse is now known as Smodcastle Cinemas….
It's a nice little mom-and-pop theater about an hour south of New York City, and literally three minutes from the famous 'Clerks' Quick Stop, so if you're a Kevin Smith fan thinking about making the trip - you might as well pop in there as well….
Everything within eyesight drains of saturation and fades to black and white once you turn onto Leonard Ave. It's pretty neat.
Side note: As soon as I pulled up to take these pictures, a crackhead outside told me (unprovoked) that Silent Bob is a grimey douche and that they were a "trusted source" on the matter. I said, "Oh okay", and my sure my sleeve was pulled over the Kevin Smith tattoo on my wrist so I didn't get shanked by her while I took my snoogans pics.
Back to the event itself on Satuday, tho - it was a live episode of 'Hollywood Babble On' with Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman, as well as a late night screening of Kevin Smith's cult horror flick, 'TUSK', with the director himself to put everyone in the Halloween spirit.
For the uninitiated, 'TUSK' is a movie about an old man kidnapping a podcaster and turning him into a human walrus for companionship….
Justin Long plays the lead and he's in a full-on disgusting ass Walrus suit made of human flesh by like, the midway point in the flick. It's fucking gnarly and certainly not a film for everyone, but it's right up my alley. If you're into weird horror too, it's certainly worth a watch.
We arrived about an hour early for a 9pm podcast start (and 11pm movie), and the line to get in stretched the whole block….
Plenty of locals were confused, and theater employees walked up and down the line greeting everyone, taking videos for the Smodcastle Cinemas socials, and handing out sandwiches courtesy of the Quick Stop while we waited - and about fifteen minutes before showtime, we were let inside.
I won't lie - it's a tiny theater with a tiny lobby, but it's got way more charm than any theater chain I've been to. There was a Secret Stash merch table with various Kevin Smith swag all over it when you walked in, a cocktail booth serving free Hollywood Babble-On themed drinks for the show, and a great snack/candy selection that included a ton of stuff that you generally don't see at a theater - like Pop Tarts! Why'd we never think to put stuff like Pop Tarts on the snack racks before? Sometimes you don't want gummies OR chocolate!
Once we found our seats, the show began, and Kevin Smith/Ralph Garman took the stage….
Kevin told stories of coming to this theater growing up with his friends, Ralph knocked his impressions out of the park (per usual), and an old British woman in the crowd basically became part of the show in a hilarious ongoing bit.
Kevin even talked about renting the apartment above the theater to live there when he's in town, and revealed that he accidentally tripped the alarms and had the cops called on him HIS FIRST NIGHT when looking for toilet paper in the theater at 3am. We laughed so hard over the course of those next two hours that my face was sore when it was over.
When discussing future plans for the theater, it sounds like Film Festivals are going to play a huge role in the business.
As a movie lover myself, the idea of "Film Festivals" always sound amazing, but I only know about the huge international ones. None of my local theaters have ever done anything like that….so just the idea of driving down to this theater to see a couple Kevin Smith curated festivals with likeminded people, plus getting live podcasts/interviews/Q&As on top of that sounds amazing to me.
On Instagram, Smith teased upcoming appearances by George RR Martin, the Russo Brothers, Zack Snyder, Jason Reitman, James Gunn, Chris Jericho, Melissa Benoist, Justin Long, and more coming soon….
….and I guess what I'm trying to get at in this blog is how awesome this all seems to me.
Buying your childhood movie theater and running events where you put your movies and the movies you love on display, while also doing live shows? As a movie lover/podcaster that even WORKED in my childhood theater in high school - that's the dream right there, and Kevin Smith is living it.
This is just another thing in a long line of things that he's said "Why not?" to and is taking a swing at - and I respect the hell outta that. It's incredibly inspiring for me, honestly, and I hope someone out there feels similarly.
Take a trip down to Smodcastle Cinemas the next time there's an event in town - you won't regret it!