Cohen to pen third installment in franchise

In a long-anticipated move, Columbia Pictures is pushing forward with a third installment in the “Men in Black” franchise.

Studio has tapped “Tropic Thunder” scribe Etan Cohen to pen “Men in Black 3.” There are no deals in place for the franchise’s stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, though it’s unlikely that Col would greenlight the project without the duo’s involvement.

Col made a similar move in reviving another lucrative franchise when it began work last year on a new “Ghostbusters.” At the time, the studio tapped a hot pair of scribes in Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky to bring a modern twist to the supernatural comedy. With the exception of mega-property “Spider-Man,” Columbia has few franchises in its vault to draw upon. The Bond franchise has reverted back to MGM.

“Ghostbusters” was Columbia’s highest-grossing film ever until it was beaten by “Men in Black” and then eventually “Spider-Man.”

Studio remained tight-lipped about the direction of the third “MIB” installment.

Cohen has a number of high-profile projects in development around town, including a Sherlock Holmes project with Sacha Baron Cohen and Will Ferrell at Col.

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