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The Men in Black are coming back in 2012

Just when you thought the late '90s and early '00s were dead or locked away forever, Sony/Columbia makes an announcement that those rumors you heard about Men in Black III in 3-D were in fact true. The studio sent out a press release Friday that the third alien-blasting black-tie affair is underway for a Memorial Day 2012 release with original director Barry Sonnenfeld and stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones (Jones is in "advanced negotiations") returning.

Also in the negotiation stage is the long-rumored casting of Josh Brolin as a younger version of Jones' Agent Kay, which makes as much sense as fireworks on the Fourth of July -- which is a lot. No word on the actual story, but Etan Coen (Tropic Thunder) will deliver the script based on Lowell Cunningham's comics.

Props to Collider for this original thought, but after losing its one summer horse in the next Spider-Man film to 2012, one would think Sony would have aimed for a May or June 2011 release date to bring in some kind of revenue over the summer, but they'll instead bank on a huge 2012 much like they did ten years earlier with the original Spider-Man and Men in Black II. Perhaps the already action-packed franchise-loaded summer of 2011 was too much, especially since a few slots were taken up just in the last week alone with X-Men: First Class and the Planet of the Apes prequel. Instead, execs at Universal who have slated Peter Berg's Battleship movie for that same 2012 weekend are probably figuring out if they stand a chance. Berg, whose career skyrocketed because of his Will Smith star vehicle Hancock, knows first hand what that man can do to the box office. Look for Uni. to shift Battleship to June at minimum as a whole month lies between MIB III and "Star Trek 2."

Nothing seems more unnecessary than a third MIB, but until Spider-Man came along, MIB was Columbia's highest-grossing franchise. The opportunity to do another film ten whole years later with the advances in technology would be too hard for anyone to pass up. In that sense, I'm not surprised in the least that Sonnenfeld was game (his latest TV projects including Pushing Daisies have collapsed). Oh, and if your'e worried about Tommy Lee Jones wavering, he won't when they wave a big enough paycheck -- plus, they would never have made this announcement without knowing they had him in the bag.

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