Barry Sonnenfeld Comments on Shooting MEN IN BLACK 3 without a Finished Script

     February 29, 2012


Scripts for blockbuster movies tend to go through multiple writers, and even on set there are tweaks to the pages.  But it’s rare that movie will start shooting if the script isn’t finished.  We like to joke about movies not having scripts, but really we’re making fun of a threadbare/stupid plot.  Barry Sonnenfeld‘s Men in Black 3 literally started shooting without a finished script.  As we previously reported, the movie took a hiatus so that various screenwriters could figure out a way to wrap up the story, which centers on Agent J (Will Smith) going back in time to team up with past K (Josh Brolin) and save the world.  The movie took a pause to try and take advantage of tax breaks in New York City (Sony was worried the tax incentives would expire; they didn’t) and the spring weather.

So what does Sonnenfeld think about this unusual and risky approach to making a blockbuster feature?  Hit the jump for what he and make-up effects artist Rick Baker had to say on the matter along with a possible spoiler.  Men in Black 3 opens in 3D on May 25th.

men-in-black-3-poster-script-problemsIn the latest issue of Empire [via The Playlist], Sonnenfeld talks about the controversial decision to film without a finished script:

“We knew starting the movie that we didn’t have a finished second or third act. Was it responsible? The answer is, if this movie does as well as I think it will, it was genius. If it’s a total failure, then it was a really stupid idea.”

No, if it does really well, it will be surprising.  You made a gamble.  There’s nothing “genius” about gambling.  A stupid bet is a stupid bet, and if you win, people will still think you were crazy.

Rick Baker will also be surprised if the finished film works out:

“It was a crazy production. We had a writer actually on the soundstage writing the words moments before the guys had to say them. I don’t think that’s any way to make a movie. But I’ve seen a rough cut and I was actually shocked at how good it was.”

And I’ll say this: a friend told me about a brief scene he saw from the film (and I don’t know if it will be in the final cut), but when he told me what happens in it, I was cracking up.  Add that to Josh Brolin’s dead-on Tommy Lee Jones impression, and there’s reason for a shred (but only a shred) of optimism.  However, a new trailer would be a lot more helpful than the steady stream of still images we’ve been getting recently.

Finally, Sonnenfeld let slip a possible spoiler:

“at least now we’ve got Josh Brolin to carry on with Tommy’s part…”

This could mean that Young K comes back to the present with J, or it could simply leave the door open for Men in Black 4 to have Young K come to the present.  Of course, that would mean everything that Agent K did in the interim wouldn’t have happened, which would means Agent J never would have been recruited…

If there’s a Men in Black 4, don’t shoot a single frame until the damn script is finished.

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