Sony officials raised a lot of eyebrows last fall when they announced that Men in Black III would go on a production hiatus over the winter holidays, with filming set to resume this week. The studio claims it conceived that unorthodox plan to take advantage of New York tax incentives and the warmer weather for exterior shots – and it’s certainly possible that was the case.

But here’s where things start to get suspicious: production on Men In Black III won’t restart until the end of March, and an anonymous source close to the project says it’s due to some unspecified script issues.

Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder) was hired on to script Men in Black III back in late 2009, and eventually Jeff Nathanson (Catch Me If You Can, Tower Heist) was brought onboard to work on Cohen’s screenplay during the break in production. 24 Frames says that the script simply isn’t ready yet, and thus shooting will be postponed for another five weeks to allow Nathanson more time. While Sony naturally isn’t commenting on that claim, it does insist that the movie’s release date won’t be affected.

Josh Brolin offered assurances to fans that Men in Black III will be better than Jonah Hex a few months back, but now even the True Grit actor has spoken out about his increasing impatience with the production delays. The film may ultimately benefit from not being rushed, but when significant script retooling occurs at this juncture, it’s usually not a good sign.

The basic plot synopsis for Men in Black III doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence either, as it throws time travel into the mix and follows Agent Jay (Will Smith) as he meets up with a young Agent Kay (Brolin) in the year 1969. Scenes involving Tommy Lee Jones as the elder Kay have already been shot, and will reportedly bookend the film, which primarily takes place in the 1960s – in part to set up a number of jokes about older celebrities like Yoko Ono and Andy Warhol actually being extraterrestrials.

Punchlines about famous figures secretly being aliens are an old hat for the Men in Black franchise, but they can still be entertaining if pulled off correctly. The time travel angle raises concerns that Men in Black III could jump the shark – though, if the overall ratings at Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB are anything to judge by, a number of moviegoers seem to feel that Men in Black 2 already accomplished that feat – not to mention the poor track record of belated sequels in general.

On the plus side, Men in Black III does boast a pretty solid cast overall, including costars like Emma Thompson, Alec Baldwin, Sharlto Copley, and Jemaine Clement as the villain. This is one sci-fi franchise that’s prospered in the past from being whimsical and tongue-in-cheek, so not all hope should be lost for this film, productions woes aside. Best to not be too optimistic, though…

Men in Black III will supposedly arrive in 2D and 3D theaters on May 25th, 2012.

Source: LA Times