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Repeated production delays that have been blamed on an unfinished screenplay — “There are vast pieces of the script yet unwritten,” star Tommy Lee Jones said recently — appear to have cost the troubled Men in Black III an actor.
Alec Baldwin, who was set to play the MIB boss from 1969 in the sequel’s time-travel portion, told Vulture over the weekend, “I’m not doing that. I’m out of it; the schedule didn’t work out.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sony Pictures began filming in November with only one act of the script set because, the studio contended, it feared New York’s tax breaks would expire in December (they didn’t). That forced the studio to build a break into the production schedule from late December through mid-February, during which time the screenplay was to be finished.
But by Feb. 15, the hiatus had been extended to March 28 to allow newly added screenwriter David Koepp, who did uncredited work on the first Men in Black, to take a stab at the script. Director Barry Sonnenfeld and Producer Walter Parkes were pleased with the original screenplay by Tropic Thunder‘s Etan Cohen, but star Will Smith reportedly wasn’t, so first Jeff Nathanson (Catch Me If You Can) and then Koepp was brought in.
MiBIII follows Smith’s Agent J as he travels back to 1969 to team up with a younger version on Jones’ Agent K (played by Josh Brolin) to do … something. It’s set to open in 3D in May 2012.