Men in Black celebrates 20 Years

Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith in Columbia Pictures' Men in Black.

Men in Black celebrates 20 years today.

The sci-fi action comedy was released on this day in 1997 and I remember watching it at a drive-in theater (yes, they still existed in the 1990s).  Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, the summer hit stars Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith as secret agents in a secret organization.  Produced on a $90 million budget, Men in Black took in just over $250 million domestically and just short of $600 million worldwide.  At the domestic box office, the movie finished second to Titanic and just ahead of The Lost World.

The film would go on to be nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Art Direction, Best Original Score, and Best Makeup–winning for makeup.

The film was not only a hit with fans but with critics as well.  With a Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the critical consensus is: “Thanks to a smart script, spectacular set pieces, and charismatic performances from its leads, Men in Black is an entirely satisfying summer blockbuster hit.”

Two sequels and an animated series were later produced with Men in Black 2 coming in 2002 and Men in Black 3 coming in 2012.  The latter was far better than the 2002 film, which was poorly reviewed and rightfully so.

A potential reboot without Will Smith has been rumored for a while as has a cross-over with 21 Jump Street (an awful idea if there ever was one).  Without either Jones and Smith, I don’t see a rebooted franchise hitting on the same level as the original 1997 classic.  Here’s what MIB director Barry Sonnenfeld told Digital Spy at the start of the year while promoting his Netflix series, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.

“I wish there were a fourth film.  I don’t think Will Smith nor I would be involved. But I love the franchise, because I developed it and created it.  But I think the problem with making a fourth film – for a while they were talking about combining 21 Jump Street and Men in Black – [is] there are too many expensive players in the mix.  There’s [Steven] Spielberg, there’s other producers, and I think the way to do it is to have new agents or something like that.  Not have me, not have Will, not have Tommy [Lee Jones]. Just have other adventures. I wish they would do it, I don’t know if they will.”

What do you think about a reboot?  It’s been five years since the last movie was released.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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