…which is about two regular ole earth months.

The LA Times is reporting today that the new Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder) scripted, 3D Men In Black sequel will be taking a big two month pause in the middle of production. This is obviously a fairly rare occurrence for a production of this size, and there are two dueling explanations- the producers line that the start date had to be kept for tax incentive reason, but they still wanted to shoot some sequences in spring, and then there’s the more gossipy “source” explanation that claims the script is being completely reworked and creative differences are still being sorted out.

According to the unnamed source, Catch Me If You Can writer Jeff Nathanson (we’ll not hold his Crystal Skull story credit against him) has been brought on to make adjustments to the portions of the script that see Agent Jay sent back to 1969. Apparently the second half of production will focus on those period sequences, which star Josh Brolin as the young Agent Kay (Tommy Lee Jones will be back for the modern day sequences). This is all on the heels of an earlier production delay that was largely accepted to be caused by creative disagreements between the director, the producers, and Smith.

Unless some major catastrophe occurs though, we’ll still be seeing the film in May of 2012- they start shooting tomorrow in New York.

So what of this? Of course the producers are going to claim that something innocuous like the weather or a tax break is the cause of anything out-of-the-ordinary, and it is awfully convenient that the shoot splits up the section of the movie that apparently needs work. It’s a gossiping rumor though, and it could just as easily be a legitimate hiatus that the filmmakers are taking advantage of to polish up the script in a completely logical, non-emergency sort of way. It would definitely be unorthodox for Sony to expensively halt production (you still have to cough up those crew paychecks during the break) just because there is a rewrite happening for sequences that are already set to be shot late in the schedule. Blockbuster shoots have powered through bigger problems than a bum script before.

It doesn’t matter though- the release date stays the same, and we in the peanut gallery are going to think what we want to think about any unorthodox production moves regardless. I’m not aware of anybody asking for this sequel, so it’s not as if there’s a ton of goodwill to be shot down. There’s enough casual nostalgia for the franchise that it’s likely to do well, but it’s an uphill climb for the film to get any geek traction (whatever it would be worth). I’m a huge fan of the original film -it’s one of my favorite comedies in fact- but that giant pile of poor judgment and stupidity they called a sequel will always sit between the original and this new film, regardless of how good it could turn out. There’s not a lot of precedent for blockbuster comedy franchises purifying the well after poisoning it as thoroughly as they did.

I’m open to a good Men In Black film though, don’t get me wrong. The thrill of discovery can’t be replicated, but if they can restrain themselves and keep the gags subtle and relying on clever commentary then maybe there’s a bit more worthwhile scum to cleanse from the the universe.