Written by Sarah

I’ve got an old friend, now an accountant, who works in and around industry finances for a living. B doesn’t tell me much about specifics but he’s good about dumbing down the shady math studios use so that I can understand it in my math-deficient mind. Like me, B believes that The Numbers mean nothing and that studio accounting practices are questionable at best, and sometimes I get texts from him that look like this:

mib3 200+ CHAOS COST

I got that text back in December and just remembered it when I saw these new photos of Will Smith and Josh Brolin back at work on Men in Black III. I never delete B’s texts because sometimes stuff that doesn’t make sense at the time comes into play later down the line. This particular text is about how terrifically expensive MIBIII is. The budget will top $200 million, easy, which is insane these days. Part of what is driving up the cost of MIBIII, already an expensive, effects-laden movie, is the “chaos cost”.

Chaos cost is a term you don’t hear much because people refuse to say it like it’s the name of Voldemort’s dog or something. It refers to unforeseen expenses relating to trouble. If someone says a film has chaos costs, something has gone rather severely wrong. In MIBIII’s case, they’ve been shooting without a script, which led to a hiatus from Christmas through February in order to finish the script, but when February ended and Smith still hadn’t signed off on a final draft, the break continued into March. This is the sound of Sony flushing millions of dollars down the drain.

There’s no way MIBIII justifies these expenses. Back in 1997, the first MIB netted $250 million against a $90 million budget. In 2002, the budget for MIBII was $140 million against a $190 million gross (all numbers domestic). Do you see where I’m going with this? MIB isn’t a franchise that has improved over time. Budgets have gone up, grosses have gone down, and given the, well, chaotic nature of filming #3, there’s no reason to believe that it fares any better next summer. 2012 is ten years removed from the last MIB movie—will people still care? Will Smith is one of the very few people who can still sell a movie on his name alone, but I don’t get that there’s a lot of affection/nostalgia for Men in Black. And given that they’re writing this movie as they go and Smith wasn’t 100% sold on it when they started up late last year (the sticking point has something to do with time travel), can we really expect MIBIII to be any good?

At least Smith still looks good in the suit.

Photos from Wenn.com