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Men in Black International was, like many recent films, and attempt to reboot a popular franchise for a new audience. It was also a movie that, like many recent films, pretty much failed to accomplish that goal. Frequently, studios don't like to talk about the movies that don't do well, but Sony Pictures Chairman Tom Rothman was recently quite honest about the fact that Men in Black International failed to meet the expectations the studio had for it.
While he's sure to point out that the movie wasn't a complete flop financially speaking, Rothman admits to Business Insider that the movie wasn't simply supposed to make money, but potentially relaunch the franchise, and in that way the movie was unable to do what Sony wanted. According to Rothman...
Have we had misses? Men in Black: International wasn't particularly a financial disappointment because at the end of the day it's going to do $250 and $300 million worldwide, but it certainly wasn't a restart in the way that we hoped it would be.
Men in Black International currently sits at $245 million at the box office globally. Off an estimated budget of $110 million, that's a decent number, but far from a home run. The movie wasn't a bomb, but it's hard to call it a success.True to its name, the film did almost two-thirds of its business overseas, and failed to break $100 million domestically.
Clearly, the expectations for the movie were higher, but critically the movie was panned and the audience just didn't show up in the way it did for the previous films in the franchise. So what happened? Tom Rothman believes that while the movie had the right cast in Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, the movie just didn't give them the right story, believing that the core of the story was not compelling enough to draw in the audience. Rothman goes on...
I think the truth of the matter is the audience really liked that film and the cast was wonderful, Tessa [Thompson] and Chris [Hemsworth] were great and did a terrific job, but if we made any mistake, I think it probably was that there was not a strong enough idea in the story. Especially when you compare that to, say, Jumanji, which had a very, very strong idea. So the lesson of it is we have a pretty darn good batting average around here, but you are never going to bat 1.000, and you need to continue to take risks. But you have to try to manage risk. In the case of Men in Black, we had two cofinanciers on that movie and that manages the risk. I really do believe you cannot eliminate risk in the movie business. If you try to eliminate risk, you will eliminate creativity, and if you eliminate creativity, you will eliminate success.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was another reboot of a popular film which hit even bigger than anybody anticipated. It seems the feeling is that film found a hook, the updating of the concept to a video game, to work better than what Men in Black International did, which was ultimately a plot a lot like the previous films. In the end, the films' great cast wasn't enough to overcome the shortcomings of the story.
Of course, just because Men in Black International wasn't a massive smash, don't assume that means we won't see the brand ever again. As Rothman is quick to admit...
So Men in Black remains a very important asset that the company owns, and I would be very surprised if that is the last movie.
Even if we end up waiting a few years for another reboot, we can bet that Men in Black isn't going anywhere.