Men in Black: International is one of Sony's big summer blockbusters and hoping to launch a new series within the franchise, but it was actually the cheapest installment in the property to make. On the big screen, Men in Black got its start back in 1997 and was one of the biggest hits of the year, earning $589.3 million worldwide and positive reviews praising the fresh concept and buddy cop chemistry between Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. Unsurprisingly, sequels were made, but both followups failed to recapture the magic of the original and saw diminishing returns.
After a potential crossover with Sony's successful Jump Street franchise went south, the studio opted to give MIB a soft reboot in the form of this weekend's Men in Black: International. Pairing Thor: Ragnarok co-stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson for a galaxy-saving adventure, the film is looking to reinvigorate the brand with new leads that could carry a trilogy moving forward. Of course, Men in Black is a sizable investment for Sony, but it's actually a bit smaller than one might think.
The film's production budget comes in at $110 million, making it relatively inexpensive when compared not just to other 2019 blockbusters, but also its predecessors. 2012's Men in Black III cost a whopping $225 to make, while 2002's Men in Black II sported an $140 million price tag. The first Men in Black cost $90 million, but the 22 years of inflation between it and International more than make up the difference. Adjusted for 2019, the first Men in Black would cost about $143 million to produce.
This is actually a very smart allocation of funds, since it ensures Men in Black: International does not need to break records in order to be successful. Going by the general rule of thumb, its break even point is around $220 million worldwide (or, less than what the third film cost to make), which seems like a reachable figure. Sony probably also understands the franchise has declined considerably since its inception, and International isn't a guaranteed smash hit. Ultimately, the $110 million budget places the film in a good position; if it soars at the box office, then the studio can develop more sequels, but if it comes up short, it probably won't be a total loss. Ideally, it'll avoid the fate of Dark Phoenix.
Unfortunately, the latest MIB does share one notable similarity with the newest X-Men. They both happen to be the lowest-rated installments of their respective franchises on Rotten Tomatoes, meaning International is not going to get a boost from the reviews. There's also little fanfare and excitement surrounding it, so it remains to be seen how much of a draw it can really be - especially with Toy Story 4 coming out next week and poised to be a mega hit. It'll be interesting to keep tabs on Men in Black: International's performance, which isn't expected to be anything great at the outset.
- Men in Black International (2019) release date: Jun 14, 2019