Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have already developed a cross between the Jump Street and Men In Black franchises – here’s why we’ve never seen MIB23.
One franchise is about a secret agency regulating alien activity on Earth and the other is about a pair of bone-headed undercover cops infiltrating high schools. At first glance, the only thing that really connects Barry Sonnenfeld Men in black movies with Phil Lord and Christopher Miller 21, rue du saut and its consequence is that they are Sony productions.
And yet, under the working title of MIB23, the alluded to cross between the two is one of the most tantalizing sequels that have never been in recent memory. That would have been a wild start for both franchises, but maybe less so for 22 rue du saut, whose incredible end credits gag threw Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill into hilarious potential sequels ranging from number 23 to infinity, taking them from medical school to space.
Did they want to continue the Saut Street series as if all of those other movies happened in between and now immature cops Jenko and Schmidt were making a Men in black, so who should argue? 22 rue du saut was a big enough success to warrant further installments, but given that many of the jokes in both films are designed around the ridiculousness they make Skip the street film, not to mention a sequel, then testing the same formula again might have pushed it slightly.
All corporate synergy aside, you can see the allure of undercover cops mingling with the undercover alien culture we know from each other. MIB movies. Nonetheless, we had a smooth restart of Men in black since then and it has been seven years and has counted since the last Skip the street movie – so what happened?
While the Skip the street the films were big hits, the Men in black the franchise was at a standstill. It took ten years to go from Men in Black II to the years 2012 Men in black 3, which ended up going well over budget even before expensive back-end box office deals held by stakeholders like returning stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. The film would be among the top 10 grossing films of this year and would still be considered a disappointment at Sony.
Earlier the same year, 21, rue du saut was a surprise hit for the studio and in the summer of 2014, 22 rue du saut built on that success. So what about a fourth Men in black the movie had cooled before Part 3 even hit theaters (during the press tour, Sonnenfeld joked that at the rate of production of the first three, MIB4 would release in 2032 and feature Jaden Smith) Sony executives knew they wanted more of the two franchises, even though they were openly looking for a different direction from the existing trilogy, without Smith, Jones, and Sonnenfeld.
That summer, Columbia Managing Director Doug Belgrade said: “We are going to do [another Men In Black], but we don’t have any clarity yet on how this should be done.
News of the crossover idea first surfaced in December 2014, following the unprecedented cyber attack on Sony Pictures, which we won’t go into here. Fortunately, Lord and Miller later confirmed the project was in development in an interview with MTV.
As you would expect from the guys who also turned the idea of a LEGO movie into Lego movie, they said, “It’s always a crazy idea and we only do things that seem to be terrible.”
Over the next several years, the duo worked on the screenplay with co-writer Rodney Rothman and produced a draft which garnered the approval of Hill and Tatum, who duly embarked on the third outing, and executives at Sony. , who officially announced the project and its title. MIB23 in April 2016.
At this point Lord and Miller were working on Solo: A Star Wars Story (oh boy, now there’s a story for another time) so they had to produce the movie, while James Bobin had just done two Muppets movies and Alice through the looking glass, was officially attached to lead. The studio reportedly hoped to release the film in theaters by summer 2017, but things didn’t quite turn out that way.
Black suits to come …
At the time of the film’s announcement, it was announced that production could begin in June 2016, but over the following months, financial negotiations apparently slowed things down.
Back-end transactions were seen to have had an impact on Men in black 3profitability, which led to the decision to reboot without Smith and Jones featured. However, merging two franchises meant keeping two batches of producers happy and persuading them to forgo existing deals with standalone films. In Men in black‘s corner, there was Steven Spielberg, as well as franchise stalwarts Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, and more Saut Street, there was Lord and Miller and Neal Moritz from Original Film.
In August, Hill doubted the film would be made, stating in Toronto sun: “They try to make all the agreements, but it is a little impossible with all the Men in black thing.”
He further reflected: “The Skip the street the movies were so fun to make and the whole joke of them was they didn’t care about remakes, sequels and reboots and then now it’s become a giant sequel, reboot. It almost became what we laughed at and it’s hard to keep that joke going when the stakes are so high.
However, during development, longtime Sony Pictures president Amy Pascal resigned and was replaced by Tom Rothman (no connection to Rodney). As is quite common with large Hollywood studio franchises these days, Sony also had a Men in black restart in parallel development. While the studio wanted the crossover, it was up to Rothman to give the go-ahead for the reboot when the chords didn’t line up.
Given the delays and behind-the-scenes battles over the previous three Men in black movies, what followed unfolded fairly quickly. Men in black: international was announced in February 2018 and was in theaters in June 2019, with Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson as MIB agents overseas. It was during this reboot’s press tour that Parkes and MacDonald cited creative reasons for the Skip the street crossover falling by the wayside.
Parkes said Cinema mix, of the two franchises: “They are at, their heart, opposites. In other words, Men in black comes down to taking extraordinary situations and playing them in a comedic and impassive way. Skip the street takes very recognizable gender situations and goes beyond them.
“And, in fact, it doesn’t match. It was a good intention and everyone was smart, but when you really take a step back and look at what’s at the heart of either of these two movie series, they’re not very compatible.
MacDonald added, “I think everyone said they were creative, ‘Not quite; almost.’ […] It was just a crazy impulse worth exploring.
It should be noted at this point that the Men in black films were historically PG-rated entertainment, while both Skip the streets were firmly classified R. Perhaps MIB23 should have met in the middle at PG-13, even though there is nothing that strictly says that a Men in black restarting (as it surely should be) could not be rated R, except for business reasons.
Even so, both Skip the streets does more than wash your face at the global box office, while the MIB the suites had underperformed. Either way, whether for creative or financial reasons, the project had two groups of producers having their say and these are probably not the best conditions to make a film like this.
As Parkes later told Empire Magazine in January 2019: “We gave it a go. It turned out to be an impossible match.
A jump too far?
And so, MIB23 joined the annals of weird film crossover ideas that never came to fruition, alongside hits such as Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash and GI Joe meets the Transformers.
In the summer of 2019, the autonomous route did not work for Men in black: international too well – it garnered the worst reviews in the series and also bombed the global box office. Despite its strong overall cast, the film is a weak spot for the franchise across the board, straying too far from the unique selling points of the previous films, especially the original’s sense of humor. Not even a Piers Morgan cameo, a crappy serial movie extra, could save it.
Meanwhile, a parallel development continued with the Skip the street series too. Lord reported in 2019 that they had booked number 23 (not the Jim Carrey movie) in case the crossover returned they would have moved on to 24 rue du saut for the previously announced female-led spin-off.
In November 2020, this project was renamed Jump Street: now for fun, with screenwriters Wendy Molyneux and Lizzie Molyneux Logelin working on the current version of Rodney Rothman’s screenplay. The spin-off is set to star Tiffany Haddish and Zendaya as Jump Street cops posing as a high school teacher and her student daughter.
Maybe we’ll never see some of the more obvious gags the premise suggests, like Schmidt and Jenko repeatedly neurizing (ideally sitting across from grumpy Police Captain Nick Offerman, wearing sunglasses and explaining to them the premise over and over again whenever they forget) or masquerading as students in an entire school of strangers masquerading as students. But as it stands, we’re probably closer to a new Skip the street movie we’re at another new Men in black…
Thank you for your visit! If you would like to support our attempts to create a movie website without clickbaity:
Buy our Film Stories and Film Stories Junior print magazines here.
Become a patron here.