Sony Pictures' highly-anticipated Men in Black spin-off is moving full steam ahead, with the studio bringing in director F. Gary Gray to take the helm. The studio confirmed a summer 2019 release date back in September, but just a few weeks ago they moved it up from June 14, 2019 to May 17, 2019, which could indicate that the studio has put this on the fast track. Now that they already have a director on board, that could be the case, although it has yet to be confirmed when production is starting.
This project went through a few different incarnations at first, with Oren Uziel coming aboard in 2013 to write this spin-off, which became a hybrid of both Men in Black and 21 Jump Street, tentatively entitled MIB 23. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill were initially set to reprise their roles from the 21 Jump Street franchise, with James Bobin coming aboard to direct, but that project ultimately fell apart. Original Men in Black stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones will not be returning as Agent J and Agent K, and there was at one time talk of a reboot trilogy with a female lead, but it isn't clear if they're still planning on taking that approach.
While no concrete story details have been given, this reboot features a new cast that will re-launch the franchise, similar to what Universal Pictures did to the Jurassic Park franchise with the 2015 blockbuster Jurassic World. This spin-off is still said to be grounded in the same premise from the original comic book series by Lowell Cunningham and Sandy Carruthers. While Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones won't be back, if this spin-off continues the same timeline as the original Men in Black Trilogy, much like how Jurassic World was set several years after the original Jurassic Park, that could leave the door open for Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones to return in future installments, provided this first spin-off is a success.
This May 17, 2019 release date for this MIB spin-off puts it squarely in the middle of what could be an incredibly competitive month at the box office. In its current date, it will be facing off against Lionsgate's franchise finale John Wick: Chapter 3, but it's the massive movies opening around it that could be more troublesome. Arriving in theaters on May 3 is Marvel's long-awaited Avengers 4, which brings Marvel Phase 3 and, essentially, the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it, to a close, with Universal's Detective Pikachu, STX Entertainment's Uglydolls and TriStar's The Rosie Project debuting on May 10. A week later on May 24, Disney will roll out its live-action Aladdin remake, while Warner Bros. will debut its Minecraft video game adaptation.
Director F. Gary Gray started his career as a music video director, taking the helm of Coolio's Fantastic Voyage, TLC's Waterfalls and many more. He made his feature film debut in 1995 with the comedy classic Friday, which he followed up with more action-oriented films like Set It Off in 1996, The Negotiator in 1998 and A Man Apart and The Italian Job in 2003, along with 2005's Get Shorty sequel Be Cool and 2009's Law Abiding Citizen. After a six-year hiatus from directing, he returned to the helm in 2015 with the Best Picture nominee Straight Outta Compton, which he followed up with last year's blockbuster The Fate of the Furious, which earned over $1.2 billion worldwide. Deadline broke the news on F. Gary Gray signing on for this Men in Black spin-off.