Sony has decided to dress up like they work in a funeral home and fight aliens because they’re moving ahead with a third “Men in Black” movie. The studio has hired “Tropic Thunder” writer Etan Cohen to pen the new installment. Unfortunately, the “Men in Black” series didn’t succeed because it existed in a world where sharp-dressed men used outrageous weapons to police and protect wacky aliens. It succeeded because of Will Smith as Agent J and Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K. Their chemistry combined with Barry Sonnenfeld’s direction and Smith’s natural charisma brought “Men in Black” and its 2002 sequel to a nearly $1.1 billion worldwide gross. Hit the jump for details on why all of those elements could be missing from “Men in Black 3”.
While Sonnenfeld is set to return (although he’s not officially signed on at this point), the participation of Smith and Jones is iffy. Obviously, Sony would love to have both of them back but if they could only get one, they’d pick Smith without a second thought. He’s what will draw audiences back for a third “Men in Black” and he’ll just interact with another curmudgeonly partner. Smith currently doesn’t have a “go” project but whatever movie Smith wants to do next, that movie is go. However, THR notes, “in recent days the buzz in development circles has been that he is now interested in returning.” As for Jones, he’s been attached to both direct and star in three different projects this year: “Islands in the Stream”, “The Sunset Limited”, and “The Lincoln Lawyer”. Sony wants a 2010 start date and could begin shooting as early as spring. If Jones signals he wants to return, would Sony hold the project and if so, for how long?
Furthermore, the cost of a “Men in Black” movie would requires serious star power and the only problem with building your franchise on with Will Smith is there’s no one above Will Smith. Unless you take the series in a radically different direction, any star in his role or a role similar to “J” would be received with less enthusiasm because there isn’t another actor in Hollywood with the broad appeal of Will Smith.
However, if everything falls through, I would like Sony to know that I’d be more than happy to see a “Men in Black” movie starring only Rip Torn.