There have been reports about the delays and scripting issues surrounding Men In Black III. The production is currently on hiatus until March 28 and David Koepp is hard at work fixing complex script issues. These delays are costing Sony millions of dollars, but those cost are reportedly more than offset because the studio started shooting early enough in 2010 in order to save millions for New York tax breaks, according to THR.
The decision to delay the production has caused fans and Hollywood insiders to question what Sony is thinking! A top executive at one production company said that “the tax break is covering the chaos cost,” adding, “There isn’t any tax break that would convince me to do [what Sony did] — ever!” Wha
According to Steve Elzer, Sony’s MIB spokesman, the studio decided to shoot the film to gain the tax break and added the hiatus to allow outdoor scenes to be shot in New York in spring weather. Oddly enough, there was no need to worry because the tax breaks were extended for five years. So in truth the rush into production was redundant.
Many insiders suspect that Sony rushed into production because all of the key players — including Smith, Jones and director Barry Sonnenfeld — were finally ready to go, and did not want to lose out on the cashing in on the franchise dollars they projected they would earn from the film.
The only reasons Smith and others decided to reunite because of a script written by Ethan Cohen (Tropic Thunder). Sony liked the script, but Sonnenfeld and producer Walter Parkes, Smith wanted changes. “He’s become very enamored with aspects of screenwriting,” says a source involved with the production. The source believes Smith has earned the right to weigh in on the script, but he says the actor’s process “takes a long time.”
The script has been the key reason for delays. When filming began, Sony brought in screenwriter Jeff Nathanson (Catch Me If You Can) to make revisions. When filming shut down as scheduled around Christmas, there still was no script acceptable to everyone. When the hiatus ended in February, the script was still not up to par.
A former studio chief is not surprised that Sony couldn’t come craft a script that Smith was happy with during the break. “If he wasn’t satisfied after it’s been years in development, how are you going to fix that at Christmas?” this person asks. Apparently Smith is under no pressure to approve a script that is not 100% to his liking, despite the millions that a delay is costing Sony.
It makes sense they are having script issues because of the high amount of special effects involved int the film. A insider says, “Any movie involving time travel seems to be difficult if you want to make it work and have no bullshit loopholes, which has taken longer than we thought it would.”
Filming the first act without a complete script in place has made the issues even worse. “It’s hard because you’re locked into the beginning of the movie,” a production source acknowledges. “It creates problems that are just kind of crazy.”
Sony expects to save more than $35 million from New York tax breaks according to an inside source. That figure will be reduced because the hiatus has gone on longer than anticipated. Sony still claims that the extra costs are not substantial. “Because we extended the hiatus from the holidays, few people were on the payroll, so this was a relatively inexpensive decision that has had an insignificant impact on the budget,” according to Elzer.
According to Elzer, Koepp has turned in a revision of the script. The stress of the dealys and script have begun to cause issues between Sonnenfeld and Parkes. THR reports that “Sonnenfeld is known as talented but high-strung, Parkes — noted for a handsome head of gray hair — often is criticized for heavy-handedness with writers. (Both Parkes and Sonnenfeld declined comment.)”
They have had bitter clashes on both of the earlier MIBs that at one time there were plans to make MIB III without the active participation of one or the other, according to an inside source. Before production on MIB III, they made up. Now they are reportedly at odds again, and a source friendly with Sonnenfeld insists the director is not at fault. “A lot of the blame gets put on Barry because he’s so neurotic and out there,” this person says. “But the real evil here is Walter trying to impose his point of view on things. And because he’s so facile and he’s got great hair, he wins the day a lot. But what sounds great never materializes into a screenplay.”
Lawrence Lasker, once a filmmaking partner with Parkes, has stated that Parkes had “a bit of a Salieri syndrome,” referring to the composer who was famously jealous of Mozart’s genius. Screenwriter Dale Launer (My Cousin Vinny) claims Parkes is prone to throwing out many ideas in a process that “sort of cuts your balls off a little as a creative person. He gets to do the fun stuff, and you’re supposed to make his ideas work.”
Parkes has apparently been clashing with screenwriters again. A knowledgeable source claims that Koepp signed to the latest rewrite with the understanding that he would not be required to meet with or speak to Parkes. Elzer stated that the studio and producers who chose to have Sonnenfeld work directly with Koepp, adding, “This is fairly common.”