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Sony Boss Blames ‘Men in Black: International’ Failure on ‘Not Strong’ Story Idea

The star power of Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth wasn't enough to make the "Men in Black" sequel profitable this summer.

“Men in Black: International”

Sony Pictures

The summer box office has not been kind to movies not released by Disney, and one of the season’s biggest bombs is Sony’s “Men in Black: International.” Directed by “Fate of the Furious” helmer F. Gary Gray, the latest “Men in Black” was expected to relaunch the once-popular Sony franchise following 2012’s “Men in Black 3.” That entry, starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, grossed $624 million dollars worldwide. “Men in Black: International,” meanwhile, has only grossed $245 million worldwide since opening June 14. The reboot’s domestic total is a paltry $78 million, well below its $110 million production budget.

In a recent interview with Business Insider, Sony Motion Picture Group chairman Tom Rothman admitted “Men in Black: International” was not the success Sony hoped it would be at the box office. Rothman stressed that with nearly $250 million worldwide the movie is not a major box office bomb, but it’s far from the victory lap Sony planned.

“I think the truth of the matter is the audience really liked that film and the cast was wonderful, Tessa [Thompson] and Chris [Hemsworth] were great and did a terrific job, but if we made any mistake, I think it probably was that there was not a strong enough idea in the story,” Rothman said. “Especially when you compare that to, say, ‘Jumanji,’ which had a very, very strong idea.”

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Rothman continued, “So the lesson of it is we have a pretty darn good batting average around here, but you are never going to bat 1,000, and you need to continue to take risks. But you have to try to manage risk. In the case of ‘Men in Black,’ we had two cofinanciers on that movie and that manages the risk. I really do believe you cannot eliminate risk in the movie business. If you try to eliminate risk, you will eliminate creativity, and if you eliminate creativity, you will eliminate success.”

Not even the pairing of “Thor: Ragnarok” co-stars Hemsworth and Thompson could stir up interest in the new “Men in Black.” Reviews weren’t great either, with the film earning a dismal 22% on Rotten Tomatoes from 289 reviews. IndieWire’s chief critic Eric Kohn gave “Men in Black: International” a D+ review,

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