Men In Black: International was not the box office hit that the studio expected it to be. Sony Pictures Chairman Tom Rothman was recently interviewed about the reboot and was surprisingly candid about why it didn't live up to expectations. In a world where big studios often like to sweep missteps under the rug, this is a pretty refreshing take. Rothman had this to say when asked if the studio had any recent misses.
"Have we had misses? Men in Black: International wasn't particularly a financial disappointment because at the end of the day it's going to do $250 and $300 million worldwide, but it certainly wasn't a restart in the way that we hoped it would be."
Right after Men in Black: International hit theaters, studio insiders were quick to talk about troubles behind-the-scenes. One of the more interesting claims was that Sony wasn't present and pretty much let the project turn into a "tug-of-war" between F. Gary Gray and producer Walter Parkes. Parkes was reportedly changing the script on a daily basis. Tom Rothman didn't go into those allegations, but he did get into the story problems. He explains.
"I think the truth of the matter is the audience really liked that film and the cast was wonderful, Tessa (Thompson) and Chris (Hemsworth) were great and did a terrific job, but if we made any mistake, I think it probably was that there was not a strong enough idea in the story. Especially when you compare that to, say, Jumanji, which had a very, very strong idea. So the lesson of it is we have a pretty darn good batting average around here, but you are never going to bat 1.000, and you need to continue to take risks. But you have to try to manage risk. In the case of Men in Black, we had two co-financiers on that movie and that manages the risk. I really do believe you cannot eliminate risk in the movie business. If you try to eliminate risk, you will eliminate creativity, and if you eliminate creativity, you will eliminate success."
Men in Black: International opened as the franchise's lowest entry. Director F. Gary Gray reportedly tried to leave multiple times during the production of the reboot, but was convinced to stick around, even after the script continued to be tampered with. As an studio insider recently claimed, you don't get Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson to sign on with a weak script.
In the end, it looks like it was the script tinkering that got in the way for Men in Black: International. A case of too many cooks in the kitchen with different ideas on where the franchise should go or what it should be. With that being said, Tom Rothman doesn't think the franchise is over. He says, "So Men in Black remains a very important asset that the company owns, and I would be very surprised if that is the last movie."
The Men in Black franchise isn't going anywhere and it wouldn't be surprising to see Tessa Thompson, Chris Hemsworth, and F. Gary Gray return under the right circumstances. While the reboot did underperform, fans still seem to have enjoyed it and it wasn't a complete box office disaster. For now, we'll just have to wait and see what Sony decides to do with the franchise. The interview with Tom Rothman was originally conducted by Business Insider.