The story behind the saga of getting “Men In Black 3” to the big screen is now likely to be far more entertaining than the actual movie.
Just to recap: Last month, production on the film—which had already slotted in a break in filming of a couple of months—was delayed further as Jeff Nathanson (“Catch Me If You Can” and “Rush Hour 2”) was hired to give yet another polish to the script. That’s right, polishing a script to a film that they are in the midst of shooting. Etan Cohen of “Tropic Thunder” wrote the original draft of the script, David Koepp (”Panic Room,” “Spider-Man”) gave it a second touch-up and Nathanson did the third pass. Then, David Koepp was hired back to give the script another tweaking. Well, the studio says production on the film is now back on but that hasn’t stopped more writers putting their hands in the pot as THR reveals that another scribe has apparently been doing work on the script without anyone else being informed.
Mike Soccio may not be as well known as Steve Zaillian or Aaron Sorkin, and his IMDB page might be fairly bland, but he’s been the pen that has made Will Smith into an international star. He’s been writing for him since the “Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air” days and while it’s no secret that comic actors have a retinue of talent they hire on to tweak scripts more to their comic stylings, Smith has apparently never been too eager to acknowledge he does the same fairly routine Hollywood practice. So that’s why it’s coming as a surprise to some that in addition to the ridiculous number of writers who have already tried their hand at the script, Soccio has been writing pages as well on Sony’s dime.
Sony says Soccio “is a long-time and well-known collaborator on Will’s projects” and that “was hired for minor on-set punch-up work during our initial production period while Etan was not on location” during the first phase of filming last year. And while it’s debatable just how “known” Soccio (we never heard of the guy), according to THR’s sources, Soccio has had a bigger hand in the film than what the official studio line is, and we’d believe it.
The main problem with “Men In Black 3” is that it started shooting without a script that was approved by Smith. The plan was to shoot the present day sequences last year (which they did), take a hiatus to nail down the script, and then regroup to do all the time travel stuff. But obviously, the script still needed much more work than anyone involved anticipated, and if Sony want to get it to place that will make Smith happy, we’re sure they’re looking the other way as Soccio tries his hand to adapt the screenplay into a shape that will make their star pleased.
And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg for the film’s woes. Earlier this month it was reported that producer Walter Parkes and director Barry Sonnenfeld were clashing, while Koepp (who pocketed an amazing $250,000/week for his work on the film) would only come back on if he didn’t have to talk to Parkes. Add to that, a budget that is now soaring north of $200 million and this could be the new “Cleopatra” (all it’ll take is an affair to happen to behind the scenes between Smith and Tommy Lee Jones).
In some way, shape, or form, “Men In Black 3” will hit theaters on May 25, 2012.