Onscreen chemistry between stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson aside, the critical and commercial performance of Men in Black: International is surely not what Sony and related Powers That Be had hoped for its first entry in the franchise in seven years. However, per a new investigative piece from The Hollywood Reporter, the behind-the-scenes atmosphere of the production likely could have offered some clues.
Characterizing the film's opening weekend performance as grounds for a "franchise freezer," the report cites insiders who detailed the contentious production as being detrimental to its success.
While everyone involved was initially stoked on the original incarnation of this new story ("the script was good"), the exit of Sony exec David Beaubaire in 2018 is alleged to have been followed by a tense back-and-forth between director F. Gary Gray (Friday, Straight Outta Compton) and producer Walter Parkes. Once production began, cast members started receiving "new pages" daily, eventually inspiring Hemsworth and Thompson to bring dialogue writers of their own aboard.
Gray—whose last outing was $1.2 billion-earning The Fate of the Furious in 2017—reportedly attempted to leave the film multiple times but stayed after some studio convincing. Parkes is also said to have been given final cut privileges, with his edit of International ultimately being selected for release after confined test screenings.
Despite the potential franchise-freezing performance of the troubled International attempt, there's likely still a future for the Men in Black universe. Until we learn what exactly that may become, why not go back and revisit the supremely underrated Men in Black 3?