The studio fast-tracked the project earlier this fall, setting Matt Holloway and Art Marcum to pen the script and dating a May 17, 2019, release.
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones will not reprise their roles in the film, which is meant to launch a new franchise with fresh talent. Sony had originally planned on combining the “Men in Black” and “21 Jump Street” franchises, but have since tabled that idea.
The original movie followed Smith and Jones, who played agents of a secret organization, known as the Men in Black, and protected Earth from intergalactic bad guys. The first film was huge hit and produced two more sequels.
Sources tell Variety that the new leads will not be different versions of Smith’s Agent J and Jones’ Agent K, but rather completely new characters, with one of them likely to be a woman.
Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald are producing, with Steven Spielberg executive producing. David Beaubaire is overseeing the pic for Sony.
Following the critical acclaim of his 2015 N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton,” Gray was tapped to take over the eighth installment of the “Fast and Furious” franchise. “The Fate of the Furious” became one of the biggest hits of 2017, grossing more than $1 billion at the box office. After a short break following the back-to-back productions, Gray had been anxious to get back behind the camera, and landed the gig following a strong meeting with Sony chairman Tom Rothman.
Gray is repped by UTA, Principato-Young Entertainment and Del Shaw. Deadline Hollywood first reported the news.