MiB: International’s Win Is Less Than Stellar

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The Men in Black organization is perhaps the most secretive in the world. No one knows who these men (and women) in black are or, really, who they work for. Its headquarters are better hidden than Kim Kardashian’s moments of introspection. And should anyone get too close to them, zap! An agent will whip out their handy-dandy neuralyzer and wipe away their most recent memories. Frankly, there’s some doubt as to whether the Men in Black exist at all.

So for the organization itself, perhaps it’s a good thing that Men in Black: International did so poorly at the box office.

Oh, sure, the latest MiB film did indeed win the weekend. But it did so with a mere $28.5 million in North America—about $20 million less than any previous franchise entry. (And keep in mind, the previous installment, Men in Black 3, was released way back in 2012, when tickets cost a quarter. At least that’s what Grandma says.) International fittingly did a bit better overseas, beaming up another $73.7 million. Still, MiB’s latest cinematic rocket ship is seriously sputtering.

Last weekend, I mentioned potential sequel fatigue as a reason for the sagging box office as of late, and I do wonder whether that’s indeed playing a role. Some sequels do boffo numbers, of course, which is why movie studios rely on them so much. Economically, it makes more sense to make a sequel or reboot of a beloved franchise than risk a new, unfamiliar story. But consider: Of this weekend’s top eight movies, seven are sequels, remakes or franchise installements. The last truly original film to win a box-office weekend was Us way back in March. It’s one thing to make the occasional sequel; it’s another to make nothing but them. I wonder if audiences are hankering for something new.

Of course, there’s another possibility: We all actually did see MiB: International and we, along with all the folks charged with tabulating ticket sales, have been neuralized.

Last week’s champ, The Secret Life of Pets 2, dug up another $23.8 million for second place, pushing its total gross to about $92 million. Disney’s live-action Aladdin held strong at No. 3, stuffing another $16.7 million into its lamp. Genie et al. have now earned a grand total of $263.4 million—or $724.8 million if you add Aladdin’s international grosses to the party. And it’s not done yet. Clearly, this is a film that can go Jafar.

Dark Phoenix continued to smolder in our weekly countdown, finishing fourth with about $9 million. Rocketman, the only original flick in the top five, held onto fifth place with $8.8 million. That helped spoil the debut of Shaft, which you could say got the shaft itself. It landed with a thud in sixth place with $8.3 million.

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous 24 days ago
I know it's not exactly a sequel, but I did see last year's Grinch remake last night after renting it from the library, and frankly couldn't stand this bastardized version of a beloved Seuss tale. I can almost see Dr. Seuss himself rolling in his grave at the mere thought of this movie even being made. Sure there's a laugh here and there and a couple of sweet moments as well, but really the whole look feel and overall vision of Dr. Seuss has been severely compromised in this new version. My favorite feature-length Seuss adaptation remains 2012's The Lorax with Jim Carrey's Grinch not too far behind, but Horton Hears a Who, Mike Myers' Cat in the Hat, and now this new Grinch are travesties that should have never existed in the first place.
Anonymous 26 days ago

I tend to love a lot of sequels. From Austin Powers to Friday the 13th to American Pie and even Pixar's own Finding Dory and Incredibles 2 there have been some wonderful sequels made. On the other hand sometimes a franchise just doesn't know when to stop like Madagascar who admittedly made a great sequel in Escape to Africa but sadly Europe's Most Wanted and that Penguins of Madagascar movie were downright horrible. And of course who can forget about the wretched Cars 3? I guess it all depends on the movie really, but the problem is you never really know until you decide to try it out for yourself, lol.

That being said Toy Story 4 doesn't really interest me in the least. I mean a spork named Forky? That's got to be the dumbest idea for a character Pixar's ever had.

Anonymous 23 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Cars 3 is great in my opinion, arguably the best film in the series.

I appreciated that the film wasn’t just a cash grab like the second film and that it also matured Lightning McQueen and progressed his character more. It also set a new conflict for him to overcome.

Both of those are what I look for most in a sequel. If a sequel checks off those two boxes, then the sequel is usually worth my time.
Anonymous 21 days ago
For me Cars 3 was a been there done that type of situation. It had none of the charm and good natured wit of the first two Cars films, and wasn't nearly as cool or exciting to watch either. The first one is an all-time classic in my mind and the second one is a whole lot of fun in a James Bond/Austin Powers kind of way, but the third one was lifeless, lackluster, and boring. One of Pixar's worst films in my opinion and a massive step down from the brilliant Cars 1 and Cars 2.
Anonymous 29 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy 

I don’t want to be a part of that crowd that just goes, “We don’t want sequels, reboots or remakes; we want original stuff!” So here’s my personal take on what Hollywood is doing right now.

I like sequels. I really do. But I only want to see sequels if they’re done right. If the sequels evolve the main characters and set up a new kind of conflict, great. But if a sequel only exists for the sake of making money, I’ll pass.

Sequels can be fun, but they also need a purpose for being made.
Anonymous 29 days ago
I also enjoy sequels. Some of my favorite sequels are:
 The Empire Strikes Back (As good as the first one)
 Toy Story 3 (much better than the first 2) 
 The Incredibles (also as good as the first) 
 Homer's Odyssey (Not a movie, but a sequel!)
 Some sequels don't feel necessary, I'll admit. And some are blatant money-grabbers. There are book series like that, that are so popular they keep making more books. Case in point: The Warriors series by Erin Hunter. I enjoyed the first few series, but then I realized that they were just rehashing the same old thing in it, when they could have brought it to a nice finish long ago! 
 You're right. It depends on the sequel.
-Emma Bibliophile

 
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Anonymous 29 days ago
Have you seen old movies? They, too are often based on books/sequel/on a person. Some were "original" but you have to admit, most stories come form something else. If it feels "original" that means the storyteller mixed the stuff they made the story out of really well. They made a new "recipe," if you will, out of the same old ingredients, but in a fairly new way. 
 So there is no such thing as a completely original story. 
-Emma Bibliophile