Men in Black was one of the first movies to establish Will Smith as a major movie star, and over the course of fifteen years a trilogy was completed with Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as its figureheads, culminating in 2012's Men in Black 3. A franchise as big as Men in Black can't lay dormant for long, however, and this year Sony has been making early plans to move forward with a crossover of Men in Black and the surprisingly successful Jump Street movie reboot.
One of the only stumbling blocks to progress, however, is the fact that Smith doesn't seem too interested in making any more Men in Black movies, saying in 2013 that "three is enough for me." With audiences so used to the idea of Smith and Jones as the Men in Black, launching a new age of the movie series is going to be tricky. The latest word from producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, however, suggests that Sony is thinking ambitiously.
Speaking in an interview with THR, Parkes described the Men in Black revival as being in "very active" development, with McDonald adding that it "will be reinvented as a trilogy." When asked if Smith will be involved, Parkes replied, "Most likely no."
While it's always possible that Smith will make a cameo appearance, it sounds like Sony is resigned to building a new Men in Black trilogy without him. What's particularly interesting is that a full trilogy is being planned, rather than just a single movie to test whether or not the franchise can survive beyond its Smith days. Of course, a new trilogy could always be stalled after the first movie if it's not a hit, but there's a lot of intrinsic appeal in an action sci-fi comedy about secret agents protecting the world from aliens. There's also a new generation of teenage moviegoers who were born after the first Men in Black movie came out (yes, it's been that long), who would no doubt be ready to embrace a new Men in Black film with a new rising star.
Men in Black was originally based on a comic book series by Lowell Cunningham and Sandy Carruthers, which was first published in 1990. One possible idea for the movie revival would be to go back to the source material for inspiration and make the new trilogy a full reboot with no narrative connections to the previous films. Of course, Sony could also take a 'new generation of agents' approach.
There's also the possibility that this new trilogy could still incorporate a crossover with the Jump Street movies. That franchise could certainly do with a new approach, since the end credits of 22 Jump Street already mocked the idea of the series carrying on infinitely with slightly different spins on the same formula. Both series are in need of a new direction, and a crossover could be the ideal approach.
We'll keep you updated on Men in Black as development continues.