After months of rumors and speculation, Sony Pictures officially revealed at CinemaCon last April that the Men in Black and 21 Jump Street crossover was officially happening, under the working title MIB 23. The studio set James Bobin to direct from a script by Rodney Rothman, but Jonah Hill teased in August that scheduling for the movie would be impossible, and he doesn't think it will ever see the light of day. That was the last we heard about the project, but today we have word from Barry Sonnenfeld, the director of all three Men in Black movies, who reveals why this project, nor Men in Black 4, hasn't happened yet.
Digital Spy caught up with the filmmaker, who doesn't think that neither he nor Will Smith will be involved with any future Men in Black sequels in any way. In fact, the only way he thinks the franchise can survive is if they ditch this concept of a Jump Street crossover, focusing on new adventures with a different cast of characters. Here's what the filmmaker had to say below.
"I wish there were a fourth film. I don't think Will Smith nor I would be involved. But I love the franchise, because I developed it and created it. But I think the problem with making a fourth film, for a while they were talking about combining 21 Jump Street and Men in Black, [is] there are too many expensive players in the mix. There's Steven Spielberg, there's other producers, and I think the way to do it is to have new agents or something like that. Not have me, not have Will, not have Tommy (Lee Jones). Just have other adventures. I wish they would do it, I don't know if they will."
Before this MIB 23 crossover came about, producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald revealed in 2015 that there is a new Men in Black trilogy in development, that won't feature Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones or any of the original cast members. Laurie MacDonald also revealed in another 2015 interview that there will be a strong female lead, but then in the spring of 2016, Sony confirmed that MIB 23 is moving forward, although we haven't had any updates in several months. When asked about the project in August, Jonah Hill had this to say, shedding doubt on whether it will ever see the light of day.
"I had the idea. But I doubt that movie will get made. It's too complicated. They're trying to make all the deals, but it's kind of impossible with all the Men in Black stuff. The Jump Street films were so fun to make and the whole joke of them was they were making fun of remakes and sequels and reboots and then now it's become a giant sequel, reboot. It's almost become what we were making fun of and it's hard to maintain that joke when it's so high stakes. I love Channing and I love (directors) Phil Lord and Chris Miller and I love making those movies, they're a lot of fun. So I hope it works out."
It isn't known if director James Bobin is still attached to direct MIB 23, or if the studio is still developing Rodney Rothman's screenplay. The first Men in Black movie hit theaters in 1997, just one year after Will Smith's smash hit Independence Day. The movie earned $250.6 million domestic and $589.3 million worldwide from a $90 million budget. The second movie, 2002's Men in Black II, dropped slightly, earning $190.4 million domestically and $441.8 million worldwide from a $140 million budget, while the third movie, 2012's MIB 3, faltered even more domestically, earning $179 million, but it fared much better overseas, with a global haul of $624 million, from a whopping $225 million budget.