Barry Sonnenfeld has conclusively ruled himself out of the proposed Men In Black/Jump Street mash-up. He also confirmed that Will Smith won’t be involved. But he did say that he still hopes it will see the light of day.

The Men In Black director spoke to Fandom ahead of the launch of his new Netflix original series A Series of Unfortunate Events. He said, “I think it’s a really hard thing to get off the ground but I hope it happens because it sounds funny”.

Asked what’s happened to the project, Sonnenfeld suggested that production has stalled for financial reasons, and because of creative differences. He said, “I think there were too many players that needed too much money. 21 Jump Street had Neal Moritz as a producer, who is expensive. Men In Black had Steven Spielberg, who is very expensive. There are so many elements and so many people involved with different opinions. The producers of the Men In Black movies have strong opinions and I’m sure Jonah and Channing have big opinions.”

Jump-Street-Channing-Tatum-Jonah-Hill
Jonah Hill, pictured with co-star Channing Tatum, would be keen to get MiB 23 up and running but money and creative differences may be factors

Details of the crossover project emerged after Sony was hacked in 2014. The company confirmed the film would be happening at CinemaCon during the first quarter of 2016. Sony also revealed its title, MIB 23.

The crossover movie would be the third Men In Black sequel and second for Jump Street. Further details on the project beyond what we already know haven’t been forthcoming. Jonah Hill said last year that he doubts the film will get made despite hopes to the contrary. Hill starred in and wrote both 21 Jump Street and 22 Jump Street. He was also executive producer on the first, and producer on the follow up.

With James Bobin currently slated to direct, Sonnenfeld intimated he’s happy to pass over the reins.

“I did what I did and whatever they do it’ll be better, or worse,” he said. “I directed a movie called Get Shorty. The novel was written by Elmore Leonard and the script by Scott Frank. Elmore said, ‘I’m a novelist. I write a novel and whatever you guys do to it as a movie is fine with me because all I care about is the novel’. So, [in a similar way] I did the first three [MIB films] and if someone wants to do a great job, good. I’d love to see it continue.”

Intriguingly, Sonnenfeld has woven a sly homage to the Men In Black films into ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’. When Uncle Monty takes the Baudelaire children to the cinema in Episode 3, one of the films showing is titled Men In Beige. 

Of the crossover project, Sonnenfeld added, “I would hope that they maintain a similar tone. But, it’s a different show and life goes on.”

We’re not sure whether the use of the word ‘show’ was a slip of the tongue or whether Sonnenfeld knows something he’s not elaborating on. But with a disappointing reaction to Men In Black III and Sony indicating that they still believe in the MIB concept, perhaps there’s the possibility of life in this project beyond the cinema screen – as a television series. After all, Men In Black has already trodden TV territory in animated form with ‘Men In Black: The Series. Watch this space.

‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ is available on Netflix from January 13, 2017.