Kevin Smith on why 'A Couple of Dicks' became 'Cop Out'

The new trailer for the upcoming buddy cop comedy Cop Out just hit the internet, but anyone who had been following the project knows the film, out February 26, 2010, had long gone by a more distinctive title: A Couple of Dicks. Fortunately, the film has an even more distinctive director: Kevin Smith, the famously profane indie film hero (Clerks, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Zack and Miri Make a Porno) making his debut as a director of a script he did not write himself. Smith was more than happy to give EW his frank perspective on how A Couple of Dicks became Cop Out — in a nutshell, blame the networks.

Kevin Smith: Look, losing A Couple of Dicks was almost akin to losing my own dick. It was a perfect buddy-cop movie comedy title. Everyone knew it. You couldn’t say that title to somebody without a f—ing smile crossing their face. But what I had gone through with Zack and Miri Make a Porno — “porno” had become very problematic, it became tough for us to advertise [the film], blah blah blah. Warner Bros. decided, “Hey man, we’ll call the networks and see if we’re going to get any problems [with A Couple of Dicks as a title], months before the movie’s ever going to come out.” The top 3 networks — CBS, ABC, NBC — said we can’t run one of your spots before 9 o’clock.

I’m like, “Well what about Inglourious Basterds?” And I guess, because of the spelling, they got away with it. So we were like, “Can we call it A Couple of D.I.C.s?” Because that’s the proper acronym for detectives, Detective In Charge. And [the networks] kicked that back as well. It was the pluralizing of any form of dick, whether it was d-i-c-k or any derivation.

So my feeling was like, it’s an R-rated movie, so who the f— are we talking to anyway before 9 o’clock? Warner Bros’s feeling was like, “Hey man, we have to advertise to the sports audience on Saturday and Sunday and all those sporting events usually take place before 9 p.m. in the evening.” At which point, I was like, “Oh wow, you guys are way smarter than me.”

All credit due to Warner Bros., they tried really f—ing hard to score that title. It just came down to a point blank choice of run a campaign where you’re not going to be able to advertise on the big three networks before 9 o’clock, or run a campaign where there are no hindrances. I came from a world where you play the ball where it lays. If I hadn’t gone through Zack and Miri Make a Porno, I think I would have gotten my old-school f—ing angry indie spirit, if you will: “F— it, we live or die by A Couple of Dicks, or I take my name off the picture!” But even my mom was like, “I might go see Zack and Miri, but I would never go see Zack and Miri Make a Porno.” I feel like Chief Brody in Jaws 2: I’ve seen the shark up close. I ain’t going through that hell again.

And I’ve got a lot of people online, on Twitter especially, going, “Don’t lose this fight! Don’t let them change it!” And it’s like, “Dude, it’s not my call.” All these people online seem to think I have the almighty juice. I got no juice. I made Jersey Girl. I can’t pull any f—ing strings.

So for months now, they’ve always had A Couple of Cops as kind of this fallback thing — a placeholder, essentially. And then all of a sudden, one of the producers of the movie was like, “Hey they’re locking the title, because the trailer is going to be put on Sherlock Holmes.” And I was like, “This is an abundance of wonderful and horrible information.” I want to be on Sherlock Holmes because everyone on the planet will probably go see it on Christmas, but I don’t want it to be A Couple of Cops. That just seems like we didn’t even try! We went from a really clever title to the least clever title of all time. I was like, “God that title is going to feel like such a f—ing cop out.” And [the producer] goes, “We should just call the movie that.”

I liked it because it sounds like exactly what we set out to be: An ’80s buddy cop movie, without sounding like Loaded Weapon, or some such s—. But more importantly, to me, the title tells the story of what happened to our other title. I think it’s kind of ironic. It’s win-win. For 100 percent of the potential audience for this movie, I would say 0.5 percent knows that we were once called A Couple of Dicks. After they read this article, maybe you could bump it up to 0.75 percent. The rest of the potential audience, they have no idea what this movie used to be called. For them it will always be Cop Out. They’ll just never know that there was that one magical moment where it was called A Couple of Dicks. We were making up sequel titles in our heads, dude. Like, you know, Two Bigger Dicks. Or Dicks 2: It Just Got Harder.

Somebody online said you could take Cop Out and vary it with like, “Rock out with your Cop Out!” Hopefully that will be a tagline on a poster or a trailer. And if it is, we owe that random dude on Twitter like at least a few free passes.

(Warner Bros. had no comment on the title change.)

Comments (70 total) Add your comment
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  • slg

    you gotta love Kevin Smith. Sorry you lost the fight, but I will still smile when I hear the title, and especially when I think of the possible titles for the sequel.

    • Sheldon

      Kevin Smith is an unfunny hack.

      • el pinche

        And you’re an unhappy d1ck.

      • Troy

        Totally agree. Has he done anything relovant in the last ten years?

      • Wil

        And I believe Zach and Miri WAS a pretty relevant movie itself…

      • Diz

        Sheldon is an unfunny hack

      • Jadedmastermind

        God I wish I could” thumbs down” your comment. I hope you slip in a puddle of aids and crack your head open.

  • Mo Arsinoe

    Cop Out’s a better title anyway.
    especially with the back story.

    • Delon

      Totally agree. “Cop Out” is far superior to A Couple of Dicks which i think is too on the nose.

      • Ha

        Ha – On the nose – A couple of dicks – on the nose. – Ha

      • Jadedmastermind

        Like a Roman War Helmet?

    • Owen Milson

      I don’t want to see any movie called Cop Out, I only want kok movies shortpeopledate

  • Laura

    I agree with slg. I will think of a Couple of Dicks when I hear Cop Out. And I will definitely see this. Kevin Smith is a genius. And if EW bleeps out d i c k s, I’m going to be p i s s e d.

  • Laura

    Yay for EW not being total hypocrites!

  • The Real UGH

    Yet another Kevin Smith flop. Is he technically “in” Hollywood anymore? I can’t believe that he can still find work as a director.

    • Eric

      Flops don;t make money. He may not be making blockbusters but he also works with a lower budget for most of his movies so it’s far easy to recoup the expenses. Most of his movies can recoup expenses in their first weekend. That is not a flop.

    • Pete

      Hey UGH, you do get that box office receipts aren’t the only thing they judge profits on right? Because even though Kevin Smith’s movies usually don’t make much at the box office, they don’t cost alot to make either. Smith usually averages abnout a $10 million budget & pulls in $30 million at the box office. So already he’s made the studio 3 times the profit. Then you include dvd/Blu-ray sales when it’s released in that format. The studio probably makes about 6 times what it cost to make the film. That’s why Kevin Smith still directs movies in Hollywood.

      • Guido The Killer Pimp

        I’m with UGH.
        I think he’s pointing out how terrible Smith’s movies are and I agree.
        Clerks and Chasing Amy were good, not great. Everything after….meh.
        He should be making some of these horrible DTV American Pie sequels instead.

      • jason.

        Yeah, because I’m going to listen to the movie opinions of “Guido the Killer Pimp”.

        At this point, Kevin Smith is kind of a Brand, and he’s never been shy about the fact that his empire, small though it may be, is built primarily on “dick and fart jokes”.

        Of course, he leaves out the bits where his movies also have sharp, funny dialogue and a fair amount of heart.

        So, terrible is a subjective term. Just like I think your on-screen name is a tragedy that wipes out all credibility for your opinion of what constitutes “terrible”.

      • Ben

        Sorry, but I have to agree that Chasing Amy was Smith’s last good movie. Love his characters’ dialogue, but his movies after Amy just didn’t revolve around a good story. Maybe if he had left Jay and Silent Bob as nothing but supporting characters because too much of those guys was extremely too much and pretty one dimensional.

      • @Jason

        You must not know much about movies if you didn’t recognize “Guido The Killer Pimp” as an adage to a very popular movie.

      • Chris

        “@Jason”, “Jason” is too busy thinking he’s some sort of snob and a know-it-all about movies. He’d rather go around insulting other members here about their names. Maybe his mommy will let him out of his room to open up some Pokemon cards for Christmas.

      • The Real UGH

        I love how Kevin Smith fans can’t handle the bashing.

      • jason.

        Fair enough, fair enough. I shot off my internet mouth without bothering to check and see if someone’s screen handle was a pseudo-obscure film reference. I have now been schooled in regards to “Tom Cruise Movies circa 1983″.

        Truly, I am cinema-ignorant, but am that much closer to winning trivia night.

        Seriously, though, I came off a bit trollish, which is something I generally try to avoid. So, I apologize for the Christmas-Eve snark to “Guido”.

        “UGH”, I can handle the discourse.
        Again, if I came off like an utter douche, I apologize. I think Kevin makes good movies, with or without the profanity. I *am* allowed to disagree without being labeled Unable to “handle the bashing”, yes?

        can we take it back to ones and try again?

        You think he’s a bad director; I disagree.

        Chris…thanks for implying that I’m a ten year old, circa 1997. That has got to be one of the strangest and most out-of-touch insults I’ve ever had hurled my way, drunk or sober (was the insult another movie reference I just don’t get?). Again, I don’t think I’d classify myself as a “movie snob” (I was defending Kevin Smith here, not Goddard, and again, my crime here was being cranky and not having seen “Risky Business”).

        But thanks more making me feel like I’m not the biggest tool in this sub-thread.

      • Guido the Killer Pimp

        Water under the bridge, Jason.
        Happy Holidays!

  • darclyte

    I wanna rock out with Cop Out! I just knew for the longest time that the original title would never make it because of what happened with “porno.” It’s too bad, really, but I do like the new title.

    • Denny

      What happened with Porno was that people saw it and said, “Eh.”

  • Rick

    I’m not sure if Jersey Girl made it’s money back, but I’m fairly certain most (if not all) of his other movies made money after all receipts, DVD sales, etc (pretty much what Pete said). Studio execs by this point know that Smith has a following that’s typically good for $20-30 million domestically. Being that he usually works small budget stuff, he’s probably seen as a safe risk and good value.

    I can totally see his point in that networks shows trailers for “Basterds” at all times of day, but are too scared to mention “Dicks.” It’s a lock that Smith’s vulgar reputation has some weight in their decision.

  • Laura

    Whatever has become of “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” Political correctness and fear of the “family values” crowd goes too far in pop culture. “A Couple of Dicks” is a fantasic movie title and I’m sad to see it go.

  • harry

    It Just Got Harder? EPIC!!!

  • Tom

    Kevin Smith missed his calling: he was great in “Live Free or Die Hard.” As soon as Artie Lange dies, Kevin can lock down all the “ugly fat buddy” roles.

    • ^

      Artie doesn’t need to die. It’s not like anybody’s knocking on his door to play anything in the movies these days. He’s too much of a risk.

  • Ben

    Regardless of the title, this doesn’t appear to be a very funny movie.

    • “this doesn’t appear to be a very funny movie”

      Genius idea for a title. It should be the title for all of his films..just add a number behind each one and make them the quasi-sequels that he seems to churn out over and over again.

  • PHD

    I’m a fan and he doesn’t always hit a home run (Clerks, Chasing Amy) but he tries hard and unlike many directors has his own voice and its distinctive and creative and usually funny.

  • slothy

    Considering the networks said Dick for eight years when talking about the vice-president Cheney during the 6 o’clock news, their argument is pretty flaccid if you ask me.

  • Guido The Killer Pimp

    Haha. Touched a nerve there with Jason did I? Like someone else said, my nickname is taken from a very popular movie. Maybe you just felt threatened that I was really a pimp and that I would come after you if you didn’t pay up for one of your dates?

    • Chris

      Guido, you might want to click on the reply within the conversation above next time so it gets read correctly.
      Jason’s just one of those angry Kevin Smith sheep who can’t take criticism of such medicority.

      • Guido The Killer Pimp

        I think he was mad because I insulted his DTV American Pie movies. He probably saw his first naked woman in one of those movies.

      • r.ramjet

        man, funny insult. from which american pie DTV did you pull that classic/classless “threaten their masculinity” gibe?

  • paige

    “Dicks 2: It Just Got Harder”… Cant stop laughing about that… and I love the fact that there is someone called “Guido the Killer Pimp”… here’s hoping you become an EW post MVP just so I can keep seeing that name

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