F. Gary Gray Tried To Flee ‘Men In Black International’ During Troubled Production

This is becoming an unfortunate pattern. Major Hollywood blockbuster bombs at the box office, and within days we’re treated to stories about how the entire production was fucked up. Now it’s Men in Black: International‘s turn, after a mediocre box office debut and subpar reviews pretty much neuralized any hope of continuing the franchise.

While the film didn’t suffer the usual setbacks, such as major reshoots or delays, it had a plethora of other problems documented by THR. While stars Chris Hemsworth and Thompson, along with director F. Gary Gray were happy initially, interference by producer Walter Parkes, a serious player with deep ties to Steven Spielberg, changed their attitude considerably. The story would’ve found the MIB duo faced against a musical group ala the Beatles “with four people merging into one villain.” Sounds pretty cool and potentially pretty funny, but you’ll find none of that in the version seen in theaters.

It was Parkes who interjected and got the story changed, with rewrites done on the fly to such a degree Hemsworth and Thompson sought assistance from private dialogue writers to fashion the script to an acceptable standard.

As you might’ve guessed, this caused turmoil on the set with Gray attempting to exit the movie “several times”, only to have Sony convince him to stick around. Finally, two versions of the film were handed in to Sony, one from Gray and another edit from Parkes. Guess which one they went with? If you guessed Gray then you need to learn more about how Hollywood works.  Hopefully, Sony learned their lesson by going against the talent on this one.

Not that it will come as any surprise, but Sony was indeed interested in bringing back Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones at one point. However, budget overruns put the kibosh on that and they decided to go with a full reboot instead. I’m not saying Hemsworth and Thompson were reason for the movie’s failure, but a little more star power from the O.G. dudes definitely would’ve helped drum up some interest…

“The urgency to see this was never there, and the movie needed a greater reason to be,” said an anonymous Sony exec.

Is Men in Black dead as a franchise? Of course not. In a few years it’ll return with a new team, a new director, and hopefully with a lot less internal conflict.