Sony boss says 'Men in Black: International' flopped at the box office because there 'was not a strong enough idea'

  • “Men in Black: International” has been one of this year’s biggest box-office disappointments.
  • Sony’s studio boss, Tom Rothman, told Business Insider what he thought went wrong with the movie.
  • We also asked him whether he thought the franchise was dead.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Sony has had one of the biggest hits of the year with “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” and it will give audiences the next Quentin Tarantino movie when “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” opens this weekend. But the studio also suffered one of the biggest box-office disappointments of the year with the release of “Men in Black: International.”

Released seven years after ‘Men in Black 3,” and done as a reboot with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones replaced by Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, “International” was lambasted by critics (it has a22% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and took in only $30 million domestically in its opening weekend, the lowest in the franchise.

So what happened? The chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group, Tom Rothman, has a simple answer.

“I think the truth of the matter is the audience really liked that film and the cast was wonderful, Tessa and Chris 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,”he told Business Insider in a wide-ranging interview. He was quick to add that the movie had two cofinanciers on the movie, so Sony isn’t taking a giant hit on the $110 million-budgeted movie.

Read more: Sony movie boss Tom Rothman explains why he bet big on Quentin Tarantino’s new movie and sets the record straight about a rumored deal term

But with the movie making only $245 million worldwide to date (just $78 million domestically), does Rothman see this being the end of the “Men in Black” franchise?

“I don’t know the answer to that because we’re not done yet with that movie,” he said. “That movie is still in theaters, playing out in the rest of the world, so ask me that question after ancillaries — after we go out in digital and DVD.

“I mean, we are making ‘Zombieland 2’ right now, the audience is crazy for that. But if you asked whoever was in my job a few weeks after the theatrical of ‘Zombieland’ whether you’re going to make another one, they would have you hauled off to the loony bin. But it has taken on a great life. So ‘Men in Black’ remains a very important asset that the company owns, and I would be very surprised if that is the last movie.”

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