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.)