Men in Black: International may have brought Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson back together again, but even their chemistry wasn’t enough to bring the loose reboot, which has been widely panned by critics, summer blockbuster glory. Opening up with a disappointing $30 million domestically and $73 million internationally on a $110 million production budget, many are trying to make heads or tails of what happened.
It turns out there is plenty of finger-pointing to go around, and much of it is towards the creative differences between director F. Gary Gray and producer Walter Parkes. More on the report below.
THR has a breakdown on what may have gone wrong and led up to Men in Black: International‘s critical and commercial flop. Based on their report, it goes as far back as the Men in Black and Jump Street crossover that was revealed when Sony’s emails were leaked in late 2014.
According to the report, this ambitious crossover plan would require Men in Black producers Steven Spielberg and Parkes, and Jump Street producers Chris Miller and Phil Lord to forgo big money deals. However, it was Jump Street producer Neal H. Moritz who ultimately refused to forgo his first-dollar deal, which led to the crossover being canceled and Men in Black getting a reboot.
The studio was considering bringing back original franchise stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, however, this was seen as too expensive and not “forward-looking” enough. So this would lead to a search for new stars. Eventually Thompson and Hemsworth, who appeared together in Thor: Ragnarok, would be cast. The two were praised for their chemistry in the Marvel Studios film, and Sony attempted to bring that into Men in Black International.
However, that wasn’t enough. And it’s not as though the script wasn’t any good. As the report puts it, they wouldn’t have been able to land Hemsworth and Thompson if the script was poor. So what happened? Well, according to sources, there was a creative dispute between Gray, who helmed Straight Outta Compton and The Fate of the Furious, and Parkes, who was one of the people behind the original MiB, over the vision for the reboot.
Early drafts were edgier and more timely and relevant, with the current immigration debate tying into the plot of the film. At one point, a music group a la The Beatles were to be the bad guys, with four people merging into one villain.
Parkes, who had the final cut on the film, was said to be doing multiple rewrites before and during production. Sources tell THR that he stepped in on helming responsibilities, but this did not violate any Directors Guild of America rules.
However, the rewrites did cause confusion for the actors. While rewrites aren’t strange occurrences for big-budget films like this, it was so problematic that Thompson and Hemsworth then hired their own dialogue writers.
Additionally, the feud between Gray and Parkes got so bad that Gray wanted to leave the project entirely but was convinced by studio execs to stay on board. And even though things looked this bad during production, the post-production was a calmer process. Still, that did not mean the feud was over.
Apparently, the studio tested two cuts, one from Gray and one from Parkes. Ultimately, the latter was chosen.
Men in Black: International is out in theaters now. Click right here for trailers and more.