'Men In Black: International' exposé reveals 'Infighting and daily re-writes' on doomed fourquel

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Men In Black: International (Credit: Columbia Pictures)

Men In Black: International has taken a panning at the hands of the critics, and now has the dubious honour of having the lowest-grossing opening in the franchise's history.

Reviews noted substantial plot issues, and more fundamentally, questioned whether anyone wanted or needed another instalment in the sci-fi series.

But now in an exploratory piece in The Hollywood Reporter, a picture of discord on set has been unveiled by sources close to the production.

Read more: MiB International battered at the box office

It claims that director F. Gary Gray threatened to quit the movie on several occasions.

The issue appeared to be friction between Gray and Walter Parkes, the veteran Hollywood producer and Spielberg cohort behind the original movies as well as films like Minority Report.

They are said to have 'clashed on the vision' for the project.

New scripts were said to be 'arriving daily' for the movie, while stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, who sparked palpable chemistry on the set of Thor: Ragnarok, reportedly ended up hiring their own dialogue writers.

F. Gary Gray, Kumail Nanjiani, Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald (Credit: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

Meanwhile, Parkes 'at times also stepped in on helming duties', resulting in Gray attempting to 'exit the production', sources went on to say.

One insider told the industry bible: “Walter is both the arsonist and the fireman.”

It's said that Parkes' final cut of the movie, rather than Gray's, is the one that is currently in cinemas.

Another executive at Sony added: “The urgency to see this was never there, and the movie needed a greater reason to be. Aliens walking among us is at its core a great idea. Men in Black will be revisited again at one point, either as a series, as streaming, or as another movie.”

Tommy Lee Jones (L) and Will Smith (R) promote their film "Men in Black 2" at Claridges Hotel on July 17, 2002 in London. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

The movie was in a state of flux from the off, with one of two possible road maps – one being a straight reboot, and the other being a riskier combination of the MiB universe and the 21 Jump Street movies, which actually made its way into development before being axed.

Read more: First look at West Side Story branded ‘drab’

Parkes added in a recent interview with Cinemablend: “They are at, their heart, opposites.

“In other words, Men In Black comes down to taking extraordinary situations and playing them in a comedic deadpan way. Jump Street is taking very recognisable genre situations and going over the top with them. And, actually, that doesn’t mesh.

“It was a good intention, and everyone was smart, but when you really step back and look at what’s at the heart of either of those two series of movies, they’re not very compatible.”

But it seems that the direction they ended up choosing may not have been the winner.

As well as getting panned by critics, the movie debuted to just £28.5 million on its opening weekend in the US. It's thought it will need to make £238 million just to break even.

Men In Black: International is out now across the UK.