Rumor has it that the Men in Black franchise is returning to theaters, but with one key component missing: Will Smith. Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, who produced the original and its two sequels, confirmed to the Hollywood Reporter that a franchise revival is moving forward without him.
“We’re in the middle of it. It’s very active,” Parkes said of the new installment, which is intended to be the first part of a second trilogy. Asked whether Smith will be involved, Parkes told THR, “Most likely, no.”
The original sci-fi comedy premiered in summer 1997 to huge success, grossing more than $250 million during its theatrical run, second only that year to Titanic. Smith returned for Men in Black II in 2002, which was commercially successful but critically hated. Ten years later, he signed up for MiB3, which became the most profitable film of the franchise thanks to robust international ticket sales.
Despite the success of the trilogy (they are among Smith's biggest blockbusters ever), the actor isn't interested in coming back to the well, instead focusing on prestige projects like the Oscar-bait-y Concussion, due out this fall. Last year, the actor turned down the opportunity to star in Independence Day 2, the sequel to his highest-grossing film ever.
It remains to be seen who will fill Smith's shoes and whether his partner in crimefighting Tommy Lee Jones will also bow out. It's hard to imagine the franchise without them, but if Star Wars can go on, so can Men in Black.
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(Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Dodge)