EXCLUSIVEF. Gary Gray is the choice to direct the Men In Black film that will relaunch the franchise for Sony and Amblin. Negotiations are underway toward a deal. Gray is enjoying a mid-career trajectory that began with Straight Outta Compton, and then extended most recently to the third highest global grossing film of 2017,  The Fate Of The Furious. The film grossed $1.2 billion. Men in Black has a script by Iron Man scribes Matt Holloway & Art Marcum and the studio greenlit the picture on their draft.

Sony, which is coming off a big hit in reviving the Jumanji franchise, is hungry for more and the studio has set a June 14, 2019 release date. Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald are back as producers and Steven Spielberg is exec producing.

Sony Pictures

Sony and Amblin have been trying to figure out the best way to relaunch the series, after the original pairing of Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith ran its course in the 2012 third installment. The attempts included a spinoff film that would meld Sony’s 21 Jump Street cast members Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill into an extraterrestrial spinoff. This film isn’t that one. Rather, it is a spinoff grounded in the original premise, of a covert force policing the alien population hiding in plain sight, the premise of the comic book series by Lowell Cunningham and Sandy Carruthers.

Neither Jones nor Smith are expected to be back. They’ll relaunch the franchise with a new cast, much the way that Spielberg did with Jurassic World.

Sony and Amblin are giving the keys to the big-budget extravaganza to Gray at a good time for the filmmaker; after the sleeper hit Straight Outta Compton grossed over $200 million on a $28 million budget, he took on the $250 million budget The Fate of the Furious, and delivered a crowdpleasing film that became the 12th-highest global grossing pic of all time for Universal. This film mixes action with comedy, and Gray has a broad background in both; he launched the Friday franchise and has helmed Set If Off, The Negotiator, Law Abiding Citizen and The Italian Job.

David Beaubaire is overseeing for Sony. Gray is repped by UTA, Principato-Young and attorney Nina Shaw.