Will Smith is basically a moneymaking machine at this point. He just needs to show up, grin, crack a couple of jokes and you get a minimum of $100 million out of whatever the project is. He’s got two franchises that have been gathering dust for a few years — Men in Black and Bad Boys.
Both of them have been hit or miss, according to critics, but mega-earners for the studios. Men in Black was a great, fun film that featured an excellent chemistry between Smith and straight man Tommy Lee Jones. The sequel was a mess, a barely memorable smorgasbord of miscues and weirdness. Bad Boys is the ultimate guilty pleasure, a movie I wholeheartedly love and own, despite knowing that it is, when broken down to its base elements, phenomenally stupid. The second is even worse, a gigantically bloated action monstrosity that barely even makes sense. I fucking love that one too. Of course, much like MiB, the main reason I love them is because of the chemistry between Smith and his co-star (Martin Lawrence, in this case).
Rumors have been swirling about a third entry in both series for quite some time. Now, we’ve got a little more info, and a little more rumor. The first is more solid: Barry Sonnenfeld, who directed the first two Men in Black films, has not only confirmed that he’ll be directing the third, but that both Smith and Jones will return. This tosses out the numerous rumors about replacement cast members, although there are still a lot of names that are being bandied about as potential supporting cast members, including Sacha Baron Cohen, Josh Brolin, and Jemaine Clement. Plot scenarios have alleged everything from space adventures to time travel. Who the hell knows.
As for Bad Boys 3, it’s always been a bubbling rumor. Now, Lawrence, while promoting Death at a Funeral, is telling MTV that the third entry is probable, although who knows how reliable he is. Lawrence is kind of the stepchild of the three main players involved in the Bad Boys franchise — Smith, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and director Michael Bay are key factors. According to Lawrence:
“I met with Michael Bay, and he said he’s onboard too — so it’s real…We’re just waiting on Jerry Bruckheimer to let us know when it’s really real.”
Do with that what you will. Personally, I’d rather see another Bad Boys film, simply due to the sheer action spectacle, the on-screen chemistry, and the inventive swearing. However, if Sonnenfeld can recapture some of the fun from the first Men in Black, there might be some potential there too, I suppose.