Entertainment: Rewrites, Infighting and No "Urgency": Behind Sony's Lackluster 'Men in Black' Relaunch - PressFrom - US

EntertainmentRewrites, Infighting and No "Urgency": Behind Sony's Lackluster 'Men in Black' Relaunch

00:45  18 june  2019
00:45  18 june  2019 Source:   hollywoodreporter.com

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Men in Black International, though, fails to recapture the spark of either Hemsworth and Thompson’ s witty dynamic in Thor Ragnarok or of the Men in Behind the wall of a Marrakesh pawnshop, Agents H and M discover a colony of pint-sized alien workers and adopt one of them (Kumail Nanjiani) as

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In 2016, Sony Pictures’ top executives, including chief Tom Rothman, faced a dilemma: Should they greenlight a reboot of Men in Black or pursue a Men in Black crossover with a second franchise, 21 Jump Street? The stakes were high. A misstep could kill a franchise. Or two.

Initially, Sony tried to make deals for the crossover route. That plan was ambitious, requiring names such as Steven Spielberg and Walter Parkes on the Black side, and Chris Miller and Phil Lord on the Jump Street side to forgo rich producing deals. But when Street producer Neal Moritz refused to compromise on his customary first-dollar pact, according to several sources with knowledge of the talks and development of both projects, the studio pivoted to the straight Men in Black reboot.

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"All the constable does is get called once in a while for a stray cat or dog," she said. "There' s no crime or nothing here — so we' re all worried." Russ and Marcia Oberstadt along with their daughter Kayla Oberstadt oppose a new youth prison that would be located near the edge of their property.

His black informants therefore saw him not only as someone more likeable and trustworthy than most whites but also as someone who was in a position to help them in some way if he understood more about their lives.

That Sony would attempt to relaunch the franchise without Will Smith was a roll of the dice. The studio was already trying to cut a deal with the megastar for Bad Boys 3 and, internally, getting the actor along with original trilogy co-star Tommy Lee Jones for a fourth MIB film was seen as both an expensive and not as forward-looking proposition, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

That choice, to relaunch the franchise with new stars, would lead to a battle between director and producer and, ultimately, a crash landing at the box office. Men in Black: International, a hoped-for relaunch of a franchise whose three previous films — released in 1997, 2002 and 2012 — grossed over $1.6 billion, opened to only $30.1 million stateside. It was, if not a franchise killer, a franchise freezer.

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His black informants therefore saw him not only as someone more likeable and trustworthy than most whites but also as someone who was in a position to help them in some way if he understood more about their lives.

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Rewrites, Infighting and No The Will Smith-Tommy Lee Jones MIB films all bowed in the low-to-mid $50 million range. In the months prior to release, Sony and industry experts had given up on International opening near those numbers, with some anticipating a low $30 million debut and high-end estimates coming in at $38 million. Sony was hoping to bring in a new fanbase for MIB, thinking that International would be able to capitalize on Thompson and Hemsworth’s combined star power following their team-up in the critically and commercially successful Marvel Studios sequel Thor: Ragnarok.

The studio was also initially high on the screenplay by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway. “The script was good,” says one insider. “You don’t attract Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson if the script isn’t good.” It’s a sentiment echoed by several insiders familiar with the development of International who spoke to THR on condition of anonymity.

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I suffer from the " urgency addiction." I know it sounds like one of the falsely humble things like telling somebody in a job interview that your weakness is I tell this story to give you a sense of the urgency addiction in action: procrastination meets deadlines meets embarrassment if you suck = creativity and

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But when the executive overseeing the project, exec vp production David Beaubaire, exited the studio in summer 2018 and was never replaced, a tug-of-war began. Director F. Gary Gray, who helmed Straight Outta Compton and The Fate of the Furious, and Walter Parkes, the veteran producer and Spielberg confidant who helped make the original movie, clashed on the vision for the film, a source says. Parkes produced the movie with his wife and longtime business partner, Laurie MacDonald.

Early drafts of the script were described as being edgier and more timely, tying the story to the current debate surrounding immigration. At one point, a music group a la The Beatles were to be the bad guys, with four people merging into one villain. Multiple sources describe Parkes, who had final cut on the movie and who had written movies such as the 1980s classic WarGames and the Robert Redford thriller Sneakers, as having a heavy hand in overseeing rewrites not only during the preproduction process but during production as well.

One source says new pages arrived daily for the actors, causing a certain amount of confusion, as well as stripping away what some considered the more modern sensibilities. Thompson and Hemsworth then hired their own dialogue writers. (Both Marcum and Holloway were on set even as Parkes looked to dictate rewrites, another source notes, seconding that multiple dialogue writers served stints on set for the actors.)

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The Last Man in Europe was an early title for the novel, but in a letter dated 22 October 1948 to his publisher Fredric Warburg, eight months before publication, Orwell wrote about hesitating between that title and Nineteen Not long after, Syme disappears and no one acknowledges his absence.

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Two sources say that Parkes at times also stepped in on helming duties, although no Directors Guild of America rules were said to have been violated. Gray tried to exit the production several times but was convinced to stay by the studio, a source says.

Even color-correcting was a source of contention between the director and producer. "Walter is both the arsonist and the fireman," contends an insider.

Remarkably, the postproduction process was relatively smooth. There were no major reshoots and test screenings were mainly limited to friends and family on the lot, says one source. “It wasn’t a Dark Phoenix situation,” says the studio source, referring to the recent X-Men movie that faced reshoots and major retooling after principal photography had wrapped.

The studio tested two cuts — one by Gray, the other by Parkes — with the version by Parkes, who has final cut, being chosen. “The studio was an absentee landlord. They were nowhere to be found,” says one International insider, pointing to the lack of guidance from Sony over multiple disagreements that had broken out between Parkes and Gray.

What Rothman did ensure, however, was that the studio’s exposure was limited. The movie cost in the $110 million range and the executive brought in Chinese conglomerate Tencent and several other co-financiers. The marketing and publicity budget spend was said to be on the lower side due to various tie-ins.

In the end, the movie was met with a lowly 25 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes and a B CinemaScore, indicating that audiences, those who did show up, shrugged. “The urgency to see this was never there, and the movie needed a greater reason to be,” says a Sony executive.

Yet, in these franchise-hungry days at studios, even a failure like this won't kill the franchise, executives agree. “Aliens walking among us is at its core a great idea,” this Sony executive adds. “Men in Black will be revisited again at one point, either as a series, as streaming, or as another movie.”

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