The Fast of the Furious director F. Gary Gray is in talks with Sony to oversee the studio's Men in Black franchise relaunch/reboot/spinoff. With a career that dates back more than 20 years to the Ice Cube comedy Friday, Gray has long been a mainstay in Hollywood, alternating between gigs directing music videos and feature films like The Negotiator and The Italian Job. His biggest breakthrough, though, came in 2015 with his direction of the critically acclaimed hit Straight Outta Compton, which was followed two years later by the worldwide blockbuster The Fate of the Furious - a movie that pulled in a gargantuan global haul of $1.2 billion.
The success of Straight Outta Compton and The Fate of the Furious has given Gray the luxury few directors in Hollywood can enjoy, which is to be choosy. So, it appears that the director's next task is to reinvent a franchise starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones that first became a worldwide phenomenon over twenty years ago.
According to Deadline, Sony Pictures and Steven Spielberg's production house Amblin Entertainment are in negotiations with Gray to secure the director to move the Men in Black franchise forward. Following the underperformance of the third Men in Black film in 2012, the franchise has been long-rumored to undergo some serious changes. At one point, Sony even contemplated merging the property with the 21 Jump Street stars Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill taking over the leads. However, when that idea fizzled, the studio opted for relaunching the original Men in Black premise based on the comic book series by Lowell Cunningham and Sandy Carruthers.
Deadline says Gray will be directing the film from a script by Iron Man screenwriters Matt Holloway and Art Marcum, and that Spielberg is onboard as an executive producer. The publication says neither Smith or Jones is expected to return to the franchise, and instead the new Men In Black film will employ an entirely new cast. As Deadline words it, the premise of the original comics is "a covert force policing the alien population hiding in plain sight."
Gray is a smart choice to take over the Men in Black franchise, which was originally helmed by Coen brothers' protege Barry Sonnenfeld. Having such films as The Fate of the Furious and the criminally underrated action thriller Law Abiding Citizen on his resume, there's no question that Gray will bring this film the action sensibilities that it needs. Perhaps more importantly, though, is Gray's experience with character dramas like Straight Outta Compton, meaning that the story won't completely be overwhelmed by special effects. Plus, with his background in comedy with Friday, Gray has the tools to recapture the charm and humor that made the original Men in Black films stand apart from others in the sci-fi action genre.
The untitled Men in Black relaunch/reboot/spinoff is scheduled for theatrical release on June 14, 2019.
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