When the idea of a crossover between two of Sony’s properties, Men in Black and Jump Street, was discovered from the disastrous Sony leak of November 2014, it got people talking. The latest Men in Black film was a couple of years old, and 22 Jump Street had been released five months prior. There were of course, some raised eyebrows as to how these two properties could ever work together, but the idea is actually genius. Sacrifices would have to be made, but it has the potential to be uniquely fantastic.
The film, now officially called MIB 23, was given the go ahead a few years ago, purely because of the idea and talent involved. In fact, there wasn’t even a completed script. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill will reprise their roles as Jenko and Schmidt, and Phil Lord and Chris Miller, directors of 21 and 22 Jump Street, will be taking on producer roles. This is a little worrying, but it’s not the end of the world. They currently have their hands full with a multitude of projects, The LEGO Batman Movie, the Han Solo Star Wars film, an animated Spider-Man film and a sequel to The LEGO Movie. Lord and Miller were essential to the successes of 21 and 22 Jump Street, and while they’re not gone from MIB 23, it’ll be interesting to see if the film retains the creativity that it’s predecessors have.
Reports suggest, despite Men in Black 3 being one of their highest grossing films, Sony still lost money on the project (that’s Hollywood accounting for you), but the company was still interested confident in continuing the franchise. Men in Black 4 was given the go-ahead in 2013, but as far as we know, nothing has come of the project yet. Oren Uziel (22 Jump Street writer) was tasked with writing the screenplay back in 2013, but it’s unclear if he ever finished and the script. Both Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones said they would ‘consider’ a Men in Black 4, and it’s unlikely they’ll have anything but cameo roles in the crossover.
In an email to Amy Pascal, former co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), Jonah Hill said the idea of a crossover was “clean and rad and powerful.”
It’s currently unclear if this crossover is replacing Men in Black 4 or 23 Jump Street. I imagine from the obvious 23 in the title, that’s it acts as a sequel to the Jump Street films as opposed to the Men in Black films. But the opportunity to make fun of film companies eager to create ‘Cinematic Universes’ is too great to pass up, and if it’s anything like 22 Jump Street’s take on sequels, it’s bound to be received positively.
Rodney Rothman, one of the writers for 22 Jump Street, has written the script for MIB 23, and James Bobin (The Muppets, Alice Through The Looking Glass) is set to direct. Bobin has had a hand in several comedy television programs, such as Flight of the Conchords, Da Ali G Show and Comedy Lab, so there shouldn’t be much worry about him not understanding how to direct the material.
It’s likely that Sony is using this crossover not only to get a great movie out of it, but to reinvigorate interest in the Men in Black franchise. It’s likely they will start production on Men in Black 4, without Smith or Jones, if MIB 23 is received well by critics and audiences. Sony is running out of tent-pole franchises that consistently make them large amounts of money, so they’ll be closely watching how MIB 23 performs.
The crossover sounds like a lot of fun, and the two worlds of Jump Street and Men in Black colliding has a lot of potential for great humour. Plus it could eventually lead on to Tatum and Hill invading all the other Sony properties. Jump Street meets James Bond? SOLD.
MIB 23 is set for a Summer 2017 release.