Ten years after the fact the third installment in the comic alien conspiracy franchise finally finds its way into theaters. After Sony commissioned a script in 2009 the movie has stalled a number of times for story revisions – and for the relocation of Will Smith’s immense on-set trailer – and thus it has not generated positive advance buzz. The first follow-up (while a money maker) has since been looked at negatively and the trailers for this third iteration have been met with a shrug. Furthering the discontent the theme songs following a similar pattern of quality; Will Smith’s ditty from the sequel fell short of the original hit theme, and now Pit-Bull’s song for part three, “Back In Time”, is an abysmal culture crime. What is telling is the studio spent north of $200 million on an effects-laden alien-populated film — and the most discussed aspect so far has been Josh Brolin doing a ripping Tommy Lee Jones impression. In order to regenerate interest among viewers let’s look into how they are selling this property.
Here in the states, to go along with specialty ice cream and themed cakes from Baskin Robbins, corporate partner Dunkin Donuts is touting the film. Stores beckon with specialty star-shaped donuts, and a new cocoa-flavored black coffee drink. The company has gone all out to back the film. If you don’t feel as if you are a member of the covert government agency when imbibing through the black straws it probably means the caffeine has affected your mind like a neuralizer.
One bit of inspired corporate synergy is partnering with outrageous tabloid publication The Weekly World News. Long the bastion of fantastical claims and alien sightings WWN is featuring the film on their site while also creating a PDF copy of their publication that is wholly dedicated to MIB-specific content. One story seems at odds with the theme, as it concerns a rancher with a flying cow on his property. However after a double-take I noted the cowboy featured for the story was director Barry Sonnenfeld.
Another publication also lent itself over to promote the movie. At The Huffington Post the news blog bizarrely had an entry under their WEIRD NEWS heading sounding equally as outlandish. The namesake of the site, Arianna Huffington, even supplies a video response to charges she is herself an alien. I wonder if Arianna was aware of the Weekly World News partnership — by playing along like this she is inviting comparison to that paper I’m not sure she intends.
On the toy front there is little surprise a full line of action figures and accessories is released with the franchise. However when it comes to replicating the look of the arcane gadgetry from the film toy licensee JAKKS Pacific took an approach that was more mundane. The guns in the film have always been a focal point and the prop masters displayed their high-tech creations at this year’s ComicCon, showing their design work is expectedly impressive. Comparing these to the more goiter-inspired toys released by JAKKS produces a bit of a gulf in results. Possibly the intention was to give kids an object so far removed from the dazzling props as to inspire their imagination – but then your basic dollar-store squirt gun could produce a similar effect.
Sony seems to be focusing more on the international territories for this installment, and that stands to reason; both precursors earned over 55% of their gross overseas. As Will Smith was kiting around the globe to various premieres one stop brought him to the Madrid tennis clay court finals. There he presented the winner of the tournament – Roger Federer – with a “gift” of one of his screen-worn black suits. It was a touching moment, when a world famous multi-millionaire entertainer made a selfless gesture towards a world-famous multi-millionaire athlete, who in kind was so touched that he later attended the Spain premiere of the film. Far be it from me to suggest professional tennis authorities to look into the veracity of the tournament. Such a result was clearly a spontaneous act of altruism.
On the subject of black suits, in past years if anyone desired the chance to dress like the agents on screen it basically took only a visit to a thrift store; your basic repurposed black suit with sunglasses would do. This is no longer the case. Over in Canada Sears department stores offers branded MIB3 suit jackets and slacks, from Haggar. These duds may in fact come as close as possible to replicating the look and feel of the agents. Announcing that these threads are constructed with 78% polyester, with a 100% polyester lining, they certainly sound like mass-produced, government-issued, untailored uniform-grade outfits.
As for rounding out the look there are a number of choices for eyewear. Kids can find branded toy glasses for themselves, as well as officially licensed costume sunglasses to do the trick. Adults meanwhile need only go to the official movie site to purchase the exact pair of agent glasses used on screen. For $38 you also get a carrying case embossed with the movie logo.
One thing you will NOT receive when watching this in 3D is a set of specially designed MIB3 Real-D glasses. While most blockbusters shown in the format have gone with some type of themed design, this May sees Sony Entertainment going with their new policy of forcing the costs of 3d glasses over to the exhibiters. (This means no web decorated Spiderman glasses either, we can assume.)
Okay, I’ve instructed you on how to completely pull together an official MIB3 outfit, however how exactly will you distinguish yourself on opening night? After all, black suits and matching glasses are sure to abound. Well let me direct you over to the specialty retailer Hammacher-Schlemmer, where they have available their version of the monocycle, the odd conveyance featured in the third act of the film. Sure it comes in a bit steep at $13,000, but when you consider the look on the faces of the other cosplay enthusiasts at the theater opening night (provided you can see them behind their glasses) I believe we can all agree it is more than worth it.