Zack and Miri Make a Porno is a comedy directed by Kevin Smith. Smith announced in March 2006 that he was working on a new, non-Askewniverse comedy. The film, starring Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks, started shooting on January 18, 2008 in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, and wrapped on March 15, 2008.
Kevin Smith states that he first thought about making this movie after finishing Chasing Amy. His idea was to have Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, and Jason Lee in a movie called Name about two people's reactions to the third having been a porn star. Instead he broke up with Adams and made Dogma, but he never stopped playing with the basic idea of a porn movie. He says
I liked the idea of doing something about porn, but mainstream porn had been done and done very well by Paul Thomas Anderson in Boogie Nights. So no point in doing that. [...] Then I started thinking about DIY porn, because the internet by that time had gotten bigger and bigger in terms of people just throwing up takes of themselves f**king.
After seeing Seth Rogen in The Forty Year Old Virgin he says, "I was just like, oh my god, that's it, he's the guy to do the porn movie about. Suddenly, it was Zack and Miri." However, he goes on to say that the movie is based on his experience making Clerks, and that "You scrape away the porno trappings of the movie, it's kind of the story of how we made Clerks, except me and [producer Scott] Mosier never fell in love or fucked."
In the first draft of the script, the movie was set in St. Cloud, Minnesota, because Smith felt that it was a place nobody would be expected to make a porno. However, the Weinstein Company, who produced the movie, wanted it to be filmed in a location that offered a tax rebate, such as somewhere in Connecticut. Smith felt that wasn't a good choice, so they settled on Pittsburgh, whre they had already filmed Dogma. Smith feels that by moving the movie outside of New Jersey and the Askewniverse it gives it a whole different feel.
The Weinstein Company, greenlit the project as soon as Kevin Smith told them the movie title. However, two weeks into filming, Bob Weinstein had doubts, and felt that the title gave the whole movie away. He asked Smith to consider changing the name to Zack and Miri Make a Movie. Smith insisted that everybody loved the title so far, and furthermore that
By calling it Zack and Miri Make a Porno, you're drawing a line in the sand that kinda says, anyone who's remotely interested in a movie like that with that title, come on in. If you're offended by the word porno, stay the f*ck away. This ain't for you.
Weinstein let himself be overruled by Smith, and later admitted that he had no idea what he was thinking.
Rogen briefly commented on the issue to MTV on June 19, 2008. "It's a really filthy movie. I hear they are having some problems getting an R rating from an NC-17 rating, which is never good." He concluded with "They [fight against] sex stuff. Isn't that weird? It's really crazy to me that 'Hostel' is fine, with people gouging their eyes out and shit like that, but you can't show two people having sex — that's too much."
Smith was forced to go through an appeals process to get the rating changed. The appeal is presented to members of MPAA members and National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) members. Smith was successful in the appeal:
I said, "Look, you don't make a movie with 'porno' in the title and not expect to come under close scrutiny when it comes time to rate the movie. We went well out of our way to make sure everything fell within the confines of an R-rated — albeit a hard R — comedy.
The poster for the film originally featured Rogen and Banks in suggestive poses. It was deemed inappropriate by the MPAA for the United States and replaced with a stick-figure poster instead. The controversial poster was still used for Canadian theatres. Some places refused to display even the stick-figure poster. Philadelphia refused to allow the poster to be displayed even when the Weinstein Company offered to replace the movie title with the website, zackandmiri.com Elsewhere, network tv refused to show the commercial for the movie.
Megaplex theaters in Utah refused to play the moving saying it was "too close to an NC-17" and referring to its "graphic nudity and graphic sex".
- A short film, This Is Not Sex, was released on the Internet one and a half weeks prior to the film's box office debut.
- Quick Stop Entertainment features a series of "Making of" videos called Money Shots.
For the opening weekend (10/31-11/2), early estimates show the film opened #2 behind High School Musical 3: Senior Year with $10,682,000 from 2,735 theaters with an average of $3,906.
- Elizabeth Banks as Miriam Linky
- Seth Rogen as Zack Brown
- Craig Robinson as Delaney
- Jason Mewes as Lester
- Jeff Anderson as Deacon
- Traci Lords as Bubbles
- Katie Morgan as Stacey
- Ricky Mabe as Barry
- Anne Wade as Roxanne
- Jennifer Schwalbach Smith as Betsy
- Tom Savini as Jenkins
- Gerry Bednob as Mr. Surya
- Kenny Hotz as Zack II
- Brandon Routh as Bobby Long
- Justin Long as Brandon St. Randy
- Edward Janda as a customer
- Jim Norton as Auditioner
- Jean-Pierre Nutini as Auditioner
- Alice G. Eisner as Auditioner
- David Early as Auditioner
- Mattt Potter as Auditioner
- James W. Smith as Indecisive Customer
- Tyler Labine as Drunk Customer
- Tisha Campbell-Martin as Delaney’s Wife
- Lauren Anne Miller as Moaner and Groaner
- Betty Aberlin as Mrs. Copley
- George Drennen as Rental House Guy
- Eric Hollenbeck as DJ at reunion
- Annie Kitral as Auditioner
- Ivan Kraljevic as Hopeful Stud
- Rose Leininger as City College Clerk
- David Dale McCue as High School Coach
- Joshua Sankey as Panasonic Salesperson
- Mark Tierno as Community Theater Actor
- Carl Clemons as Night club Patron
- Stephen Mast as Audition Man #8
- Mike O'Toole as Punk in Mister Rogers' Play Land
- Kyle Quinn as Class Reunion Guest
- Brenna Roth as Dancer
- Jean Zarzour as Auditioner
- Sanchez, Robert. News Askew. 17 February 2006.
- Davis, Eric. "Kevin Smith's New Comedy 'Zack and Miri Make a Porno'." Cinematical.com. 6 June 2007.
- Kevin Smith on the Origins of Zack and Miri Erik Davis, Oct 29, 2008.
- Interview: Kevin Smith on Zack and Miri Make a Porno! Alex Billington, October 27, 2008.
- Rahner Q&A: Kevin Smith, director of Zack and Miri Make a Porno
- Kevin Smith on the Alternate Title for 'Zack and Miri' Erik Davis, Oct 27, 2008
- Larry Carroll (June 19, 2008) 'Zack And Miri Make A Porno' Having Trouble With Ratings Board MTV Accessed September 14, 2008.
- 'Porno' proves too risque for some ads cnn.com, October 15, 2008
- 'Zack and Miri' Banned in Utah October 30, 2008