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This article is about the 1997 science fiction film. For the 1934 Three Stooges film, see Men in Black (1934 film).
Men in Black
Men in Black Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
Produced by Walter F. Parkes
Laurie MacDonald
Written by Ed Solomon
Based on The Men in Black 
by Lowell Cunningham
Starring Tommy Lee Jones
Will Smith
Linda Fiorentino
Vincent D'Onofrio
Rip Torn
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Don Peterman
Edited by Jim Miller
Amblin Entertainment
MacDonald/Parkes Productions
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • July 2, 1997 (1997-07-02)
Running time
98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $90 million[1]
Box office $589.4 million[1]

Men in Black is a 1997 American comedy science fiction spy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, produced by Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald and starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. The film is a loose adaptation of Lowell Cunningham's The Men in Black comic book series, originally published by Marvel and Malibu Comics, with a plot following two agents of a secret organization called Men in Black who supervise extraterrestrial lifeforms who live on Earth and hide their existence from ordinary humans. The film featured the creature effects and makeup of Rick Baker and visual effects by Industrial Light & Magic. The film was released on July 2, 1997, by Columbia Pictures and grossed $589,390,539 worldwide against a $90 million budget. The film won the Academy Award for Best Makeup, and was nominated for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration and Best Original Musical or Comedy Score for Danny Elfman.

An animated series based on the film, titled Men in Black: The Series, ran from 1997 to 2001 on The WB. A live-action sequel, Men in Black II, was released in 2002. This was followed by Men in Black 3 in 2012.


Agent K and his partner Agent D intercept a truck smuggling illegal immigrants into the United States. Inside they discover an alien disguised as a human. When he runs, they shoot him and use neuralyzers to wipe the memories of the border patrol witnesses. D decides to retire and asks K to wipe his memory too. In upstate New York, an alien crash-lands and kills a farmer, Edgar, to use his skin as a disguise.

NYPD officer James Darrell Edwards III pursues a supernaturally fast and agile suspect. Before the suspect jumps to his death, Edwards sees his irises blink horizontally. At the precinct station, K questions Edwards before neuralyzing him and leaving him a business card with an address. Edwards goes to the address and undergoes a series of tests, for which he finds unusual solutions. While the other candidates are neuralyzed, K offers Edwards the position with the Men in Black (M.I.B.), a secret non-government agency that polices extraterrestrial activity on Earth. Edwards accepts and his identity is erased, becoming Agent J, the newest M.I.B. recruit.

The alien in Edgar's skin goes into a New York restaurant and kills two aliens disguised as humans. He steals from them a container, searching for something, but finds only diamonds inside. After investigating the crash landing at the farm, K concludes that Edgar's skin was taken by a "bug", a species of warlike, cockroach-like aliens. He and J head to a morgue to examine the human bodies the bug killed. Inside one body they discover a dying Aquillian alien, who says that "the galaxy is on Orion's belt". The alien, who used the name Rosenberg, was a member of the Aquilian royal family and his death may spark war.

M.I.B. informant Frank the Pug, an alien disguised as a dog, explains that the missing galaxy is a massive source of energy housed in a small jewel. The bug and J separately deduce that the galaxy is hanging on the collar of Rosenberg's cat Orion, which refuses to leave the body at the morgue. J and K arrive just as the bug takes the galaxy and kidnaps the mortician, Weaver. The Arquillians deliver an ultimatum to M.I.B: return the galaxy within an hour or they will destroy Earth.

The bug arrives at the site of two disguised flying saucers, the observation towers of the New York State Pavilion at Flushing Meadows, and abandons Weaver. The bug escapes on one saucer, but K and J shoot it down. It sheds Edgar's skin and swallows J and K's guns. K provokes it until he too is swallowed. J delays the bug's escape by crushing cockroaches until K blows it apart from the inside, having found his gun in the bug's stomach. They recover the galaxy and are about to be attacked by the bug again but Weaver shoots it with J's gun. At M.I.B. headquarters, K tells J that he has not been training him as a partner but a replacement. At K's request, J neuralyzes him; K returns to his civilian life and Weaver becomes J's new partner.



Development and writing[edit]

The film is based on Lowell Cunningham's comic book The Men in Black. Producers Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald optioned the rights to The Men in Black in 1992, and hired Ed Solomon to write a very faithful script. Parkes and MacDonald wanted Barry Sonnenfeld as director because he had helmed the darkly humorous The Addams Family and its sequel Addams Family Values. Sonnenfeld was attached to Get Shorty (1995), so they approached Les Mayfield to direct, as they had heard about the positive reception to his remake of Miracle on 34th Street. They actually saw the film later and decided he was inappropriate.[citation needed] Men in Black was delayed so as to allow Sonnenfeld to make it his next project after Get Shorty.[2]

Much of the initial script drafts were set underground, with locations ranging from Kansas to Washington, D.C. and Nevada. Sonnenfeld decided to change the location to New York City, because the director felt New Yorkers would be tolerant of aliens who behaved oddly while disguised. He also felt much of the city's structures resembled flying saucers and rocket ships.[2] One of the locations Sonnenfeld thought perfect for the movie was a giant ventilation structure for the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel, which became the outside of the MIB headquarters.[3]


Filming began in March 1996. Many last-minute changes endured during production. First, James Edwards chasing a disguised alien was to occur at the Lincoln Center. But once the New York Philharmonic decided to charge the filmmakers for using their buildings, Sonnenfeld and Welch went for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Then, five months into the shoot, Sonnenfeld decided that the original ending, with a humorous existential debate between Agent J and the Bug, was unexciting and lacking the action that the rest of the film had.[3] Five potential replacements were discussed. One of these had Laurel Weaver being neuralyzed and K remaining an agent.[2] Eventually it boiled down to the Bug eating K and fighting J, replacing the animatronic Bug Rick Baker's crew had developed with a computer-generated Bug with an appearance closer to a cockroach. The whole action sequence cost an extra $4.5 million to the filmmakers.[3]

Further changes were made during post-production to simplify the plotline involving the possession of the tiny galaxy. The Arquillians would hand over the galaxy to the Baltians, ending a long war. The Bugs need to feed on the casualties and steal the galaxy in order to continue the war. Through changing of subtitles, the images on M.I.B.'s main computer and Frank the Pug's dialogue, the Baltians were eliminated from the plot. Earth goes from being potentially destroyed in the crossfire between the two races into being possibly destroyed by the Arquillians themselves to prevent the Bugs from getting the galaxy.[2] These changes to the plot were carried out when only two weeks remained in the film's post-production, however, the film's novel still contains the Baltians.[6]

Design and visual effects[edit]

Production designer Bo Welch designed the M.I.B. headquarters with a 1960s tone in mind, because that was when their organization is formed. He cited influences from Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, who designed a terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport. As the arrival point of aliens on Earth, Welch felt M.I.B. HQ had to resemble an airport.[2]

Rick Baker was approached to provide the prostethic and animatronic aliens, many of whom would have more otherworldly designs instead of looking humanoid. For example, the reveal of Gentle Rosenberg's Arquilian nature went from a man with a light under his neck's skin to a small alien hidden inside a human head. Baker would describe Men in Black as the most complex production in his career, "requiring more sketches than all my previous movies together".[3] Baker had to have approval from both Sonnenfeld and Spielberg: "It was like, 'Steven likes the head on this one and Barry really likes the body on this one, so why don't you do a mix and match?' And I'd say, because it wouldn't make any sense." Sonnenfeld also changed a lot of the film's aesthetic during pre-production: "I started out saying aliens shouldn't be what humans perceive them to be. Why do they need eyes? So Rick did these great designs, and I'd say, 'That's great — but how do we know where he's looking?' I ended up where everyone else did, only I took three months."[7] The maquettes built by Baker's team would later be digitized by Industrial Light and Magic, who was responsible for the visual effects and computer-generated imagery, for more mobile digital versions of the aliens.[3]


Danny Elfman composed the film's score, making use of his usual combination of orchestra and electronics. The score also makes prominent use of jazz for the M.I.B. theme, which consists of an ostinato, usually played on lower instruments. Will Smith recorded a song based on the film's plot, also called "Men in Black". Elvis Presley's cover of "Promised Land" is featured in the scene where the MIB's car runs on the ceiling of Queens–Midtown Tunnel.[5]

Two different soundtracks were released in the U.S.: a score soundtrack and an album, featuring various songs. In the U.K., only the album was released.


Galoob released various action figures of the film's characters and aliens. An official comic adaptation was released by Marvel Comics. The official Men in Black game is a third-person shooter developed by Gigawatt Studios and published by Germlin Interactive. Released to lackluster reviews in October '97 for the PC and the following year for the PlayStation. Also a very rare promotional PlayStation video game system was released in 1997 with the Men in Black logo on the CD lid. Men in Black: The Animated Series was created by Sony Pictures Television, and also inspired several games. Men in Black was the inspiration behind the Men in Black: Alien Attack ride at Universal Studios Orlando, in which Will Smith and Rip Torn reprised their roles. A Men in Black role-playing game was also released in 1997 by West End Games.


Men in Black won the Academy Award for Best Makeup, and was also nominated for Best Original Score and Best Art Direction. It was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy.[8]

The film holds a 92% rating on the Rotten Tomatoes film critic website, and the consensus on the site states: "Thanks to a smart script, spectacular set pieces, and charismatic performances from its leads, Men in Black is an entirely satisfying summer blockbuster hit."[9] The film holds a 71% on Metacritic, indicating "Generally favorable reviews".[10] On Empire magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Movies of All Time, "Men in Black" placed 409th.[11]

Following the film's release, Ray-Ban stated sales of their Predator 2 sunglasses (worn by the organization to deflect neuralyzers) tripled to $5 million.[12]

American Film Institute Lists


  1. ^ a b "Men in Black (1997)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-12-14. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h David Hughes (2003). Comic Book Movies. London: Virgin Books. pp. 123–129. ISBN 0-7535-0767-6. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Metamorphosis of 'Men in Black'", Men in Black Blu-ray
  4. ^ "Summer Movie Preview". Entertainment Weekly. 1997-05-16. Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  5. ^ a b c Barry Sonnenfeld, Tommy Lee Jones. Visual Commentary. Men in Black. 
  6. ^ Donnelly, Billy (May 25, 2012). "Things Get A Bit Heated Between The Infamous Billy The Kidd And Director Barry Sonnenfeld When They Talk MEN IN BLACK 3". Ain't It Cool News. 
  7. ^ Steve Daly (1997-07-18). "Men in Black: How'd they do that?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  8. ^ "Men in Black (1997) — Awards and Nominations". Yahoo!. Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  9. ^ "Men in Black". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  10. ^ http://www.metacritic.com/movie/men-in-black
  11. ^ "Empire's 500 Greatest Movies of All Time". Empire Magazine. Retrieved 2012-05-28. 
  12. ^ Jane Tallim (2002). "And Now a Word From Our Sponsor... Spend Another Day". Media Awareness Network. Retrieved 2008-10-14. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men_in_Black_(film) — Please support Wikipedia.
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821 news items

Entertainment Weekly

Entertainment Weekly
Fri, 25 Sep 2015 05:45:00 -0700

The last and third Men in Black film released on 2012 with stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones returning alongside newcomer Josh Brolin. It grossed $624 million globally, but failed to equal the takes of the first two films at the North American box ...

Vine Report

Vine Report
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 13:03:45 -0700

The last "Men In Black" film was released in 2012. It starred Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, and Josh Brolin. The film grossed $179 million in the US and $624 million in other countries. Although it did not earn as much compared to the previous two films ...
New Zealand Herald
Sun, 27 Sep 2015 13:16:37 -0700

Three films have been made in the comedy sci-fi series that sees Tommy Lee Jones and Smith paired up as secret government agents who tackle infestations of extraterrestrial life forms. The last film, in 2012, was the most successful Men In Black film ...

Den Of Geek

Den Of Geek
Fri, 09 Oct 2015 01:37:30 -0700

Sony is pressing ahead with a third Jump Street movie, as well as a possible Jump Street vs Men In Black film, and a female-headlined spin-off. For 23 Jump Street specifically, Rodney Rothman is back and working on the script (he wrote the second one).

De Morgen

De Morgen
Fri, 25 Sep 2015 05:31:07 -0700

De eerste Men in Black-film kwam in 1997 uit en was een groot succes. Vijf jaar later verscheen het vervolg en in 2012 draaide het derde deel in de bioscopen. De andere hoofdrolspeler in de komische sciencefictionfilms was Tommy Lee Jones. Het is niet ...


Fri, 02 Oct 2015 04:48:45 -0700

The duo produced the original 1997 Men In Black film starring Smith and Tommy Lee Jones and its two sequels, which followed in 2002 and 2012. They recently confirmed rumours that the franchise is getting a reboot. "We're in the middle of it. It's very ...


Thu, 08 Oct 2015 21:52:30 -0700

It's a simple sequence which might feel more at home in a "Men in Black" film, but all of the lines land with artwork that nicely shifts from comedy to horror on a dime. Andrade is an artist who has hopped around several straightforward superhero books ...
Fri, 25 Sep 2015 05:00:00 -0700

Möglich wäre auch, dass noch einmal näher auf die Ursprungsgeschichte von Agent Kay eingegangen wird, der von Tommy Lee Jones und in der jüngeren Fassung von Josh Brolin verkörpert wurde. Könntet ihr euch einen Men in Black-Film ohne Will Smith ...

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