Sony boss says 'Men In Black: International' flopped because the story 'wasn't strong enough'

Ben Arnold
Men In Black: International (Credit: Sony)

Men In Black: International was not the franchise comeback that Sony Pictures had hoped for.

The movie, the first in the series since 2012's Men In Black 3, itself a reboot, has barely scraped $250 million worldwide, around £200 million.

Given that it cost a reported $110 million to make, when marketing and advertising costs are factored in, the studio is looking down the barrel of a significant loss (reports on Deadline set a break-even figure around $300 million).

Starring Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, who crackled with chemistry in Thor: Ragnarok, it rebooted the secret agency concerned with extra-terrestrial occurrences, with Emma Thompson installed as agency boss and supporting roles for Liam Neeson and Rafe Spall.

But speaking to Business Insider, Sony Motion Picture Group chairman Tom Rothman has said that the story wasn't 'strong enough'.

Read more: MiB International gets battered at the box office

“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,” he said.

“Especially when you compare that to, say, Jumanji, which had a very, very strong idea.”

Sadly, it wasn't just box office ambivalence, but a critical drubbing too, with the movie coming out with 22% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a similarly lowly 38 on Metacritic.

He went on: “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.

Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group chairman Tom Rothman speaks during a Sony press event for CES 2019. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“But you have to try to manage risk. In the case of Men in Black, we had two co-financiers 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.”

What this means for future sequels remains unclear. Rothman will be hoping audiences connect with Sony’s next big release Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.

Quentin Tarantino’s 9th feature film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie lands in UK cinemas on 14 August.