Phil Lord and Chris Miller capped off 22 Jump Street with one of the film’s best gags: a slew of fake trailers for Jump Street follow-ups, each one more ridiculous than the last. Medical school, ninja academy, beauty school, culinary school, Sunday school; the sequence even sends Schmidt and Jenko to outer space. More than a punchline, the clip show is a comment on the industry’s relentless need to milk its productions to death through relentless sequels and ancillary marketing.
It’s a joke, of course, and a good one at that, but life often has a funny way of imitating art. We’ve known for a few months now that Sony already has a 23 Jump Street in the works, with 22 Jump Street co-scribe Rodney Rothman already plugging away at the script; given that 22 Jump Street made a serious chunk of change at the box office, nobody should be surprised that the studio has a third picture in the franchise under development. It’s par for the course.
What may come as a surprise, though, is Sony’s plan to fuse the Jump Street series with another one of their big screen brands: Men in Black. (Feel free to pause and re-read that if necessary.) The news comes courtesy of both the hacker leaks that have strewn Sony’s best-kept secrets across the breadth of the Internet, as well as reporting by The Wall Street Journal. Turns out Sony thinks having BFFs Schmidt and Jenko cross paths with the mysterious alien-policing organization is a pretty keen idea, based on some emails from the studio’s motion picture chief.
That’s about as much as can be gleaned from company correspondence; at present, it looks like Lord and Miller are producing and writing (for a possible 2016/2017 release). Sony hopes to include Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in the film, but it’s not clear whether Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones would show up to reprise their Men in Black characters in a leading capacity.
So…that happened. If you saw 22 Jump Street, you probably didn’t think to take its ending montage seriously, and why would you? It’s pure Lord and Miller, taking the mickey out of the biz with the sort of tongue in cheek irreverence that they’re built their careers on. How could that possibly spin out into something as oddball as putting Schmidt and Jenko smack-dab in a world where aliens make up a not insignificant percentage of the planet’s population. That’s weird. That’s weirder than enrolling them in mariachi school.
But against all better judgment, this concept actually sounds intriguing. Why skewer one franchise at a time when you can combine two franchises under one farcical umbrella? There’s a lot of room for Lord and Miller to pen a solid Men in Black film while also satirizing the very notion of blending franchises. Frankly, that concept falls so perfectly in their wheelhouse that it’d be a shock if they didn’t end up in the director’s chair, too.
What does this mean for 23 Jump Street? Is this project actually going to be 23 Jump Street? What about Men in Black 4? How many easter eggs can the duo squeeze into a movie that doubles up on franchises? Sony’s plan raises as many questions as eyebrows. We’ll keep you up to date as we learn more.