Men in Black screenwriter Ed Solomon called out Sony for claiming the first movie still hasn’t made a profit. It’s hard to believe, but the recently released Men in Black: International marks the fourth installment of a franchise that some might argue peaked back in 1997 with the Oscar-winning original.
The Will Smith/Tommy Lee Jones sci-fi comedy was a global hit, and despite the fact that the film isn’t the highest grossing of the franchise, it still remains the most critically acclaimed of the four films released to date. Following the day-to-day struggles of two secret government agents (Smith and Jones), whose job it is to hide the existence of extra-terrestrial life in the United States, the film was loosely based on Lowell Cunningham and Sandy Carruthers comic book series of the same name. Written by Ed Solomon - who is also responsible for the Bill & Ted films, Men in Black’s stellar box office record made a sequel inevitable and kicked off a highly lucrative franchise that is only now showing signs of weakness, with early reviews for the upcoming Men in Black: International so far proving lackluster.
Oddly enough, regardless of the critical acclaim and apparent box office success of the original Men in Black, Sony doesn’t seem to agree that it was a financial hit. After receiving his latest Men in Black profit statement from Sony, screenwriter Ed Solomon took to his Twitter account, revealing that 22 years after the original’s global triumph, Sony is still claiming that the film has not made any money. Solomon’s sarcasm is evident in the tweet, which you can read below:
In honor of the release of MiB:International (I guess), I just got my new Men in Black profit statement.. which shows it STILL in the red. The fact that they've made a FOURTH ONE confirms, as I've always said, that the big studios are only in it for the art.— Ed Solomon (@ed_solomon) June 13, 2019
It’s uncertain exactly what sort of contractual obligations that Solomon has with Sony over Men in Black, but something strange appears to be going on when the third highest grossing film of 1997 is said to still be in the red. Men in Black made almost $600 million globally on a $90 million budget, making it unclear just where all that money went. Solomon obviously agrees. The Men in Black writer followed up his initial tweet with another that further mocked Sony’s profit statement, calling it “better science fiction than the film itself,” before providing a list of Sony’s reasons as to why the film has allegedly still not made a profit:
Distribution fees, distribution expenses, direct cost, pre-break participations and deferments, supervisory fee, interest, over-budget charges..— Ed Solomon (@ed_solomon) June 13, 2019
It’s not unusual for Hollywood studios to not want to pay their writers what they’re obviously worth, even when dealing with a blockbuster. There have been numerous Writer’s Guild strikes throughout the years, most recently in 2007-2008, when all 12,000 members of the Guild’s east and west divisions refused to work until better deals were negotiated. Unfortunately for the likes of Solomon, however, Sony’s insistence that Men in Black wasn’t a financial success isn’t likely to change any time soon. That being said, rumblings of another Writer’s Guild strike persist, meaning that one never knows when the writers will once again challenge Hollywood.
Source: Ed Solomon
- Men in Black International (2019) release date: Jun 14, 2019