By Justin Kroll
The surprise may have been ruined by the Sony hack fiasco, but Sony Pictures is moving forward with its plans to combine the 21 Jump Street and Men in Black franchises into one crossover movie.
Sources tell Variety that James Bobin is in early talks to direct the action comedy for Sony. Studio sources say that while no official greenlight has been given, the studio is already eyeing a June production start date. Sony had no comment.
Bobin will be stepping in for Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who directed the first two pics but are unable to direct the crossover due to their commitment to the Han Solo pic they’re helming at Disney. Lord and Miller are still on as producers along with Neil Moritz.
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum will return to reprise their roles as Jenko and Schmidt, respectively. The two are also producing. As for Agent Jay and Agent Kay, execs have already made it clear Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones will not be reprising the roles they made famous as the studio looks to use this film to relaunch the franchise with younger, fresher faces.
With that summer right around the corner, these roles are likely to become two of the most coveted roles in town given the A-List talents the actors would be replacing.
The idea of intertwining both franchises into one film came to light during the Sony hack crisis in the winter of 2014 when a leaked email from former co-chairman Amy Pascal surfaced, containing information regarding Hill’s involvement in the hybrid.
While there was criticism over social media about the idea, Sony still decided to move forward with it, setting Rodney Rothman to pen the script. Sources now say Rothman has delivered the script and the studio is pleased with it.
Plot details are under lock and key with only a few copies of the script available; most people have to drive to the studio to read the script if they have any interest in pitching their client to direct.
While several directors met for the gig, sources say Bobin has been a favorite for some time. Bobin cut his teeth as one of the exec producers and directors on HBO series Flight of the Conchords before landing the directing gig on The Muppets movie.
He most recently directed Alice Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Alice in Wonderland. He is repped by UTA.