It's been seven years since the last installment of the Men in Black series, and when the franchise returns in June, it will be with an almost entirely new cast. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson will take over from Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. While we're still almost two months out, the first projections on the box office are coming out now, and MiB: International is currently tracking toward an opening weekend around $40 million.
While these numbers are early, and are certainly subject to change, BoxOfficePro expects Men in Black: international to end up somewhere between $30-$50 million at the start on the way to a $107 million domestic box office. That would put the new movie at the bottom of the Men in Black franchise from a box office perspective, Mien in Black 3 opened at close to $55 million on the way to a domestic total of almost $180 million, probably not where the new film wants to be.
On the other hand, Men in Black 3 is actually the highest grossing film in the franchise globally, because the international numbers for the film were much higher than the previous entries. In the 10 years between Men in Black 2 and Men in Black 3, Hollywood had made great inroads in international distribution, especially in China, where MiB 3 made $77 million. Today China is an even more important part of the global box office. If the new MiB does even better there, the movie could pay for itself in China alone.
Based on the fact that the new film is actually called Men in Black: International, one gets the impression that the foreign box office is really where the focus for the new movie is. The simple fact is that the film doesn't have to do particularly well in the U.S. if it gets embraced in enough other places.
Men in Black: International won't be the only franchise returning to the big screen in mid-June as the film will open on the same date as the new Shaft movie with Samuel L. Jackson. MiB is currently tracking to be the box office winner of the two, but only by a few million dollars, so anything is possible.
Both movies will have to also contend with The Secret Life of Pets 2, which opens the previous weekend. Animated family movies tend to have better staying power at the box office than other types of films, so both movies could lose the box office crown to a rabbit voiced by Kevin Hart.
It will be interesting to see how the first Men in Black movie without Will Smith does at the box office. We don't really know if he's so close to this franchise that it really needs him or not. We'll find out in June.