Despite development appearing to proceed ahead on a Men in Black 4, with Will Smith actively being involved in production, and Tommy Lee Jones apparently considering it, it appears that Sony Pictures is changing course for their mostly well-received sci-fi movie franchise. The producers of the franchise, Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter today that Men in Black 4 is apparently being scrapped, in favour of a full reboot without Smith and Jones’ involvement.
Parkes and MacDonald left a small degree of wiggle room with their statement, since they said it’s merely highly unlikely that Will Smith will be involved. The studio may want to give Smith a cameo as a nod to the original trilogy, after all, not to mention that plans change, and they may end up positioning the reboot as a succession story that could in theory have Smith passing the torch on to new actors. It seems like Tommy Lee Jones definitely won’t be showing up in the new movie however.
With Parkes and MacDonald stating that reboot talk is, “Very active” with the Men in Black franchise at Sony Pictures, this also calls into question the proposed direction for 23 Jump Street, the action-comedy sequel that Sony previously confirmed that they are working on, which would have crossed over the 21 Jump Street and Men in Black movie franchises, in a bid to satirize crossovers and shared movie universes. The producers wouldn’t comment on the status of 23 Jump Street, though it seems that the sequel’s plans may be being touched up, perhaps to be re-written without Men in Black, and that may explain why the sequel has gone quiet since the announcement of Sony green-lighting it, following the success of last year’s 22 Jump Street.
Should Men in Black indeed move ahead with a reboot, which Parkes and MacDonald claim is being envisioned as a trilogy (because of course it is), it shouldn’t come as a surprise to followers of Sony Pictures movie franchises, since Sony has used reboots as justification to avoid banging their head against the wall with stalled sequels before. After director, Sam Raimi bowed out of production of the aborted Spider-Man 4, Sony simply decided to start fresh with the duo of Amazing Spider-Man movies. Likewise, the difficulty of making Ghostbusters 3, which culminated in the passing of one of the original stars, Harold Ramis, led to Sony green-lighting next year’s all-female Ghostbusters reboot instead. Fortunately, before Ramis passed, Sony commissioned Atari to deliver a multiplatform video game using the aborted Ghostbusters 3 script, resulting in the well-received Ghostbusters: The Video Game from 2009, which had most of the original lead actors reprising their roles, and all four of the former Ghostbusters actors.
Despite the previous movie, 2012’s Men in Black 3 releasing an entire decade after the previous and ill-received Men in Black II from 2002, the movie was received well overall by critics and audiences, and was a big financial success for Sony, grossing over $600 million worldwide, and spurring the push by the studio to revive the movies fully. Unbeknownst to many fans of the movies, Men in Black is also inspired by a series of comic books (so it would fit right in within the current Hollywood climate), called ‘The Men in Black‘, and originally published by Aircel Comics, which was bought out by Malibu Comics, and that in turn was then bought out by Marvel Comics. The comics also dealt with paranormal and demonic themes on top of aliens, though the movies and animated series that they inspired ditched the supernatural aspects of the comics to purely focus on aliens. The comics were also darker and more serious in tone, though the movies are more comedic and light-hearted, functioning as sci-fi-flavoured action-comedies.
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