It’s been quite some time since the last Men in Black movie, in fact, it’s been quite some time since the first Men in Black, which you may recall hit theaters the same year as Titanic, 1997.
Not to mention, it’s been several years since Will Smith’s starred in a movie as well. As you can probably tell by now, what we’re getting at here at TG is that when Men in Black 3 is ready on Memorial Day, it may have quite a bit to prove at the box office, and some audiences may need a little refresher course on this franchise, which was quite something when it first came out, but may be a bit long in the tooth by now.
Men in Black was a huge hit for director Barry Sonnenfeld. Barry was originally a cinematographer, or director of photography, before becoming a director and his first big breakthrough as a director was The Addams Family. (As a director of photography he shot Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, the under-rated gem Three O’Clock High, Big, and When Harry Met Sally, to name a few.) Steven Spielberg was also an executive producer on Men in Black, and you can see his finger prints in the film as well, not to mention the screenplay for MIB was written by Ed Solomon, who also wrote the immortal Bill and Ted movies.
So how does Barry feel at the dawn of Men in Black 3? He told Vulture, “I’m done. The 3D conversion is done. I have to go to a theater to check it, but it’s done.”
This Men In Black is a time travel story, and Sonnenfeld said they went back to the Bible of time travel stories, Back to the Future, which was “our high standard that we held everything up to,” and doing it as a time travel movie was Will Smith’s idea.
Smith came up with a time travel idea while working on MIB II over ten years ago. With the new MIB, there were reports of script trouble, including reports that the film was stopped so the script could be worked on. As Sonnenfeld said, “every film has its own mishegoss,” the Yiddish word for craziness.
“Over the course of the ten films I’ve directed, I’ve only had one screenplay that I ever worked on that didn’t get a single word of dialogue changed during the shoot, and that was Get Shorty…There were several iterations of this story, especially because it was about time travel. We’d think we’d solved all the problems and then I’d wake up in a sweat at three in the morning, going, ‘Wait! Doesn’t that mean…?’ It was the butterfly effect, totally.”
Sonnenfeld also said, “I would rather the film be under the radar, the way the first Men in Black was,” but these days, considering how big the first one was when it broke through, and the current star power of Will Smith.
As for early reports of trouble, Sonnenfeld said, “All these movies are like your children, and you get angry when you’re told your kid is having back problems and may need surgery. You want to say, ‘Just wait! He’ll be at the Olympics!'”
And we’ll find out soon enough if Men in Black wins the championship at the box office this Memorial Day, and if today’s audiences find it as fun and fresh as they first did in ’97.