Men in Black: International
|Men in Black: International|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||F. Gary Gray|
|Edited by||Christian Wagner|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing|
|Box office||$187.1 million|
Men in Black: International (stylized as MIB: International in promotional material) is a 2019 American science fiction action comedy film directed by F. Gary Gray and written by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway. It is a spin-off of the Men in Black film series, which is loosely based on the Malibu/Marvel comics of the same name by Lowell Cunningham. The film stars Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall, Laurent and Larry Bourgeois, and Liam Neeson. Emma Thompson also reprises her role from the third film, while Tim Blaney reprises his role as Frank the Pug from the first two films.
Talks of a fourth Men in Black film began after the release of the Men in Black 3 in 2012. In February 2018, Hemsworth signed on to lead a spin-off while Gray was hired to direct, and Thompson joined the cast the following month. Filming took place in New York City, Morocco, Italy and London from July to October 2018.
Men in Black: International was theatrically released in the United States on June 14, 2019 by Sony Pictures Releasing, under its Columbia Pictures label. The film received negative reviews from critics, who criticized the "lackluster action and forgettable plot", although the chemistry between Hemsworth and Thompson was praised.
In Brooklyn in 1996, Molly Wright witnesses her parents being neuralysed by agents of Men in Black (MiB) while she helps an alien escape, avoiding neuralysation herself as her parents assumed that she was asleep.
Twenty-three years later, having been rejected in applications to the FBI and the CIA on the grounds of her "delusions" regarding the evidence of alien life, she manages to track down an alien landing and track the MiB agents back to MiB headquarters in New York. Although she is caught upon entering the agency, Molly makes an impression on Agent O, arguing that she has proven her skills in finding out about the organization's existence and has no life outside of her search for the agency. Convinced, she is awarded probationary agent status as "Agent M" and assigned to the London branch of the organization.
Once in London, M meets High T, the head of the London branch, and manages to arrange for herself to be assigned to assist Agent H in his meeting with Vungus the Ugly, a member of an alien royal family who is a close friend of H. During their night out with Vungus, they are accosted by mysterious alien twins who can manifest as pure energy, who fatally injure Vungus. Vungus passes a strange crystal on to M before he dies, claiming that he cannot trust H with it as H has changed since they last met. Although Agent C expresses disappointment for H's dealing with the situation, M points out that few people knew Vungus' location when he was attacked, which leads to the conclusion that Vungus' location was betrayed by one of the MiB agents present when High T assigned H to guard him. Nervous over the possibilities of a traitor in MiB itself, High T assigns C and M to conduct an investigation while H is demoted to desk duty, with the investigation suggesting that the twins had DNA traces of the Hive, a parasitic race who invade other planets by merging with the DNA of the conquered species. M learns that H and High T were responsible for fighting off a Hive invasion at the Eiffel Tower in 2016, using a wormhole included in the original migration to Earth, but since that time H has developed a God complex, demonstrating an uncaring attitude towards his duties and apparently only keeping his job due to High T covering for him due to the soft-spot they have for each other.
H convinces M to join him in following up a lead in Marrakesh, where they recover "Pawny", the last survivor of a small group of aliens who were attacked by the Twins. Pawny pledges new loyalty to M, but they are subsequently trapped by MiB agents coordinated by C, who has recovered video footage of Vungus passing the crystal on to M and believes that she is the traitor. With the aid of one of his alien contacts, H is able to acquire a rocket-powered bike and escape with M and Pawny, where they learn that the crystal Vungus gave M is actually a weapon powered by a compressed blue giant. As they repair the damaged bike, H's alien contact manages to steal the weapon and take it to Riza Stavros, an alien arms dealer and H's ex-girlfriend.
Traveling to Riza's island fortress, the trio attempts to infiltrate the base and recover the weapon, but are caught by Riza and her bodyguard. However, the bodyguard turns out to be the alien that M rescued as a child and he returns the favour by allowing them to leave with the weapon while he keeps Riza contained. The three are cornered by the Twins once again, but the twins are killed by High T and a group of agents.
Although the case appears to be concluded, H and M review the evidence and realize that the Twins' phrases could suggest that they required the weapon to use against the Hive rather than to use it for the Hive, especially when the only evidence of Hive DNA was provided by High T. As Agent C concedes that the evidence favours the idea of High T's deception, he allows H and M to follow High T to the Eiffel Tower. As they travel to the wormhole, M's questioning of H's memory of his defeat of the Hive reveals that he was neuralysed, which is confirmed when they confront High T. The Hive converted High T into one of them and neuralysed H so that he could act as the 'hero' and conceal their true activities. The High T/Hive "hybrid" is able to activate a wormhole that will draw the Hive to Earth, but H is able to draw out High T's true personality long enough for M to use the weapon to destroy High T and the Hive infestation trying to reach Earth through the wormhole.
With the truth of High T's conversion exposed, Agent O joins H and M in Paris, where she grants M full agent status and appoints H probationary head of MiB's London branch.
- Chris Hemsworth as Henry / Agent H, a top agent in the MIB UK branch.
- Tessa Thompson as Molly Wright / Agent M, a rookie MIB recruit assigned to the UK branch.
- Mandeiya Flory as Young Molly.
- Kumail Nanjiani as Pawny (voice), a tiny alien warrior that H and M befriend.
- Liam Neeson as High T, the head of the MIB UK branch.
- Rafe Spall as Agent C, an MIB agent in the UK branch who is sceptical of H's past.
- Rebecca Ferguson as Riza Stavros, an alien intergalactic arms dealer and H's ex-girlfriend.
- Laurent and Larry Bourgeois as The Twins, a shape-shifting alien duo seeking a dangerous artifact.
- Laurent Bourgeois also portrays the human that The Twins kill and copy his appearance on.
- Emma Thompson as Agent O, the head of the MIB who operates in the US.
- Kayvan Novak as Vungus the Ugly, a member of an alien royal family and friend of H.
- Kayvan Novak also portrays Nasr and Bassam
- Tim Blaney as Frank the Pug (voice)
- Spencer Wilding as Luca Brasi
- Marcy Harriell and Inny Clemons cameo as Molly's parents in a flashback.
- Thom Fountain and Drew Massey as the Worm Guys (voices), worm-like aliens that work for MIB.
- Sérgio Mallandro as himself
In February 2018, it was reported that Chris Hemsworth would star in the film, which would be directed by F. Gary Gray. The following month, Tessa Thompson joined the cast. In May 2018, it was reported that Liam Neeson was in talks to star in the film as the head of the UK branch of the agency. The film's script was written by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway and would be produced by Laurie MacDonald and Walter Parkes. In June 2018, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, and Les Twins (Laurent and Larry Bourgeois) were added to the cast of the film. Danny Elfman, who scored the first three Men in Black films, returned to compose the score for the film alongside Chris Bacon. Steven Spielberg returns as executive producer, who also has been in the first three MIB films, along with Barry Sonnenfeld, who previously directed the films.
Principal photography on the film began on July 9, 2018, at Leavesden Studios and on location in London, and continued in Morocco, Italy, and New York City. Emma Thompson was announced as reprising her role as Agent O in the film later that month. In August 2018, Rebecca Ferguson joined the cast of the film. On October 17, Hemsworth confirmed that filming had wrapped.
The film went through a troubled production due to frequent clashes between director Gray and producer Parkes, which started when the executive overseeing the project, Sony's executive vice president of production David Beaubaire, exited the studio in the summer of 2018 and was never replaced. An early draft of the script, which Sony initially praised and got the attention of stars Hemsworth and Thompson, had an edgier tone than the finished film and featured sociopolitical commentary on the current debate surrounding immigration. The main antagonists were to be an alien music group inspired by The Beatles, with the four members merging into one villain during the climax. Parkes, who had final cut on the film, had a heavy hand in overseeing rewrites during pre-production and filming. Parkes' new script pages stripped away the early draft's more modern sensibilities and arrived daily for Hemsworth and Thompson, who were both so confused that they hired their own dialogue writers. Parkes not only dictated rewrites but also stepped in on directing duties, although no Directors Guild of America rules were said to have been violated. Gray tried to exit the production several times but was convinced to stay by Sony. Parkes and Gray also clashed over the color-correction process during post-production. The studio tested two cuts — one put together by Gray, the other by Parkes — with the version by Parkes being chosen as the theatrical cut.
Men in Black: International was released in the United States on June 14, 2019. It was previously set to be released on May 17, 2019. The film had its world premiere in New York City on June 11, 2019.
Sony spent around $120 million on promotions and advertisements for the film, a figure considered to be on the "lower end" for a tentpole feature. They also partnered with several companies to promote it, including Lexus, Hamilton Watches, Zaxby's, Dave & Buster's and Booking.com, for about $75 million worth of advertising.
Partnership with Lexus
Lexus had a partnership with Sony Pictures to use their vehicles for the film, the RC and the RX, all in their F Sport variants, also, the motor company designed an alien-looking spaceship in the same body of the RC model.
As of June 25, 2019[update], Men in Black: International has grossed $56 million in the United States and Canada, and $131.1 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $187.1 million. With a production budget of $94–110 million, and an additional $120 million spent on marketing, it is estimated that the film will have to gross $300 million worldwide in order to break-even.
In the United States and Canada, Men in Black: International was released alongside Shaft, as well as the wide expansion of Late Night, and was projected to gross $30–40 million from 4,224 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $10.4 million on its first day, including $3.1 million from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $30 million, topping the box office but coming in below expectations. It represented the lowest opening weekend for the Men in Black franchise, and became the first film in the series not to open above $50 million. The underwhelming opening was blamed on the dated franchise, poor critical reviews and audience anticipation for upcoming big releases like Toy Story 4 and Spider-Man: Far From Home. The film fell 64% in its second weekend to $10.7 million, finishing fourth.
Worldwide, the film was released concurrently with the United States in 56 additional countries and was projected to gross $70–85 million, for a worldwide debut of $100–115 million. It ended up making $73.7 million overseas and $102.2 million globally, finishing first in 36 of the markets. It underperformed in Asian countries like China ($26.3 million) and South Korea ($4.9 million) due to poor word-of-mouth, similar to in the U.S., although finished first in Mexico ($3.9 million), Brazil ($1.8 million), Russia ($5.1 million), the UK ($3.4 million), Australia ($2.6 million) and France ($2.5 million).
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 23% based on 255 reviews, with an average rating of 4.49/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Amiable yet forgettable, MiB International grinds its stars' substantial chemistry through the gears of a franchise running low on reasons to continue." On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 38 out of 100, based on 50 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, the lowest score of the franchise, while those at PostTrak gave it a 72% overall positive score and a 46% "definite recommend".
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian called it "Meh in Black, making another intensely tiresome and pointless reappearance" and gave the film 1 out of 5 stars. Peter DeBruge of Variety said that "The connection between Tessa Thompson and Hemsworth is what saves the day, not anything their characters do onscreen" and called the film itself "amusing, if uneven". Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 2.5 out of 4 stars, writing: "Men in Black: International isn't bad; it's an improvement over Men in Black II (2002) and Men in Black 3 (2012), sequels that even its makers may have forgotten. As a species we appear destined to revisit this basic concept and renew the hunt for fresh variations on the zingy, disarming first picture, which brought the Lowell Cunningham comics to the screen so shrewdly and well in 1997."
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