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Phil Lord & Chris Miller on 'very crazy' Men in Black/Jump Street crossover we never got to see
Probably would've been better than Men in Black: International.
Remember that off-the-walls idea Phil Lord and Chris Lord had for a big screen crossover between Men in Black and 21 Jump Street? It was a lot closer to happening than you might think. Appearing on a recent episode of Josh Horowitz's Happy Sad Confused podcast, Lord and Miller dropped some fresh details about the unrealized project, revealing that a screenplay had been written. “There was — believe it or not — a Men in Black/Jump Street crossover script that was very funny and very crazy that we really adored," Miller said.
One of Lord's favorite ideas revolved around a twist on the iconic attire worn by the agents of the quasi-government agency that monitors and regulates alien life on the planet. "The black suits were like martial arts belts that you had to work your way up to black," Lord explained with a laugh. "And that they were issued in powder blue."
Miller went on to say that the movie would have spun out of the end credits of 22 Jump Street, which poked fun at the idea of sequel fatigue. “Basically, the idea was that Jonah [Hill] and Channing [Tatum]…a thing happened while they were doing their medical school adventure that got them embroiled into the world of Men in Black and they ended up teaming up to stop an alien takeover type of thing," he added. "It was very funny, it was very funny — trying to manage these two franchises and not drive them both into the ground seemed like a real challenge."
The Men in Black franchise eventually returned to the big screen in 2019's Men in Black: International. Despite an attempt to reboot the series with a pair of hot Marvel stars — Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson — the film was a critical and box office disappointment.
The crossover with Jump Street, which actually debuted an official logo at CinemaCon in 2016, was pronounced dead five months prior to the release of International. Since the latter failed to kickstart the franchise back up after the original trilogy of films led by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, Sony/Columbia may decide to brush the cobwebs off Lord and Miller's script.
"It was one of those things, because usually we all tire of everything trying to be made into a franchise, but to us it was actually such a crazy bold idea that's also the reason we said yes," longtime Men in Black producer Laurie MacDonald told CinemaBlend in 2019. "It was just a crazy impulse that was worth exploring."
"Men in Black comes down to taking extraordinary situations and playing them in a comedic deadpan way. Jump Street is taking very recognizable genre situations and going over the top with them. And, actually, that doesn't mesh," added MacDonald's fellow MiB producer, Walter Parkes. "It was a good intention, and everyone was smart, but when you really step back and look at what's at the heart of either of those two series of movies, they're not very compatible."
Tatum sounded off on the crossover during a recent chat with IGN, stating that he still thinks it could work. “If Sony would ever really, like, I think do the hard work and figure out the producer problems that are inherent with that film, I think we can still do it," he said. “Right now, I don't know why, they're just not motivated to do it. It's a big overhead on that movie, so…"
He went into more detail, citing Parkes, Steven Spielberg, Neil Moritz (the main producers on both franchises) as the main obstacle to making the film a reality. "They're giant producers, y'know, on that. And then once everybody is kinda like, not willing to come off their fee, you end up having a producer fee that is essentially, maybe more than the actual budget on the movie."
Like Lord and Miller, Tatum also praised the crossover script, describing it as "by and away the best third sequel to any franchise that I've ever read, in my entire life."
Fresh off their Jump Street success at the time, Lord and Miller dove headfirst into the world of animation with hits like The LEGO Movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and The Mitchells vs. The Machines.