As the team behind Men in Black: International discovered when the reboot was panned by critics and bombed at the box office, the major selling point of the franchise wasn’t the concept or the premise, but the chemistry between Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.
Of course, Jones played a much smaller role in the third film, which went on to become the highest-grossing installment to date, but Josh Brolin’s entire performance was an impression of the grizzled actor, so the dynamic between Agents J and K still powered the movie.
Men in Black 3 might have raked in $624 million at the box office, but the profit margins were razor thin after the budget ballooned to over $200 million, while Will Smith’s contract reportedly saw him walk away with 15% of the gross, netting him close to $100 million. Crunching the numbers, the last two outings for the titular organization haven’t exactly gone swimmingly, and that’s without even mentioning the myriad of behind the scenes problems.
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Both MiB 3 and International were best by production issues, and they were constantly being rewritten on the fly after they started shooting without a completed script, and the latter flopping in theaters appeared to hammer the final nail into the coffin of the series. However, insider Daniel Richtman is now claiming that a fifth Men in Black is back in development, with Will Smith in talks to return.
Of course, Smith did experience success revisiting his other 90s franchise in Bad Boys For Life, but if Tommy Lee Jones wasn’t interested in playing a lead role in an effects-heavy blockbuster almost a decade ago, then the 74 year-old probably hasn’t changed his mind in the years since. Looking back, the Jump Street crossover would have been a much better idea, but Sony are desperately short on viable franchises outside of Spider-Man and Jumanji, so they’d no doubt be more than happy to have the Men in Black return.