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Back in late 2014, we first heard about the strange possibility that the dormant Men in Black franchise and the 21 Jump Street franchise could get a crossover movie from Sony Pictures titled MIB23. Despite some signs that this mashup had a real chance at happening, it never did and Men in Black moved on without the Jump Street crew. So why did it fall through? Well, according to producer Walter Parkes, it simply didn’t work, as he explained:
It was more of a Jump Street movie, honestly. With those guys doing the Men in Black. But I wasn’t surprised that we couldn't get really there on the script because the two franchises have such utterly different tones. You know, Jump Street kind of takes very classic, you know cop things and plays it very crazy and out there and broad. And we sort of take very strange situations, kind of cop science fiction situations, and try to play it very straight. So it was very hard to try and find a tone that worked. But the theory of it was great.
Based on what Walter Parkes told CinemaBlend during our visit to the London set of Men in Black: International, the Men in Black/Jump Street crossover fell through kind of for the reasons it seemed like such an odd idea in the first place: the two franchises are too different. It might have initially sounded like an idea that was so crazy it just might work, but ultimately it died on the page.
As Walter Parkes said, the Jump Street franchise is very goofy with silly characters in ridiculous situations. Although still a comedy, the situations in Men in Black are serious within the world of the film. It might be a fine distinction, but there was apparently no way to make the two mesh together without losing part of what makes each work on its own. Jonah Hill himself cited some of these concerns in the past and doubted if the crossover would get made.
By the sound of it MIB23 wouldn’t have been a true crossover anyways. It would have been more of a Jump Street film, which makes sense to a degree given that that was the more recent and prominent franchise at the time. Regardless, it didn’t work. That struggle to find the right tone doomed the project and honestly it sounds like it was for the best.
The studio liked the idea and the concept certainly had potential, but if there was no way to make it work and work well, better not to force it simply so you could capitalize on two name brands. The people working on the project could have phoned it in and slapped the logo on it and we’d all be saying the franchises should have stayed separate, but they ultimately came to that decision on their own.
Although MIB23 will go into the halls of Hollywood’s weirdest and most fascinating what-ifs, the franchises will continue to live on separate from one another. Sony is moving forward with a female-centric 21 Jump Street spinoff movie. As for the Men in Black organization, it’s getting some new blood and going global in F. Gary Gray’s Men in Black: International, starring Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson.