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‘Men in Black: International’ Heads for $40 Million Opening

Sony’s action comedy “Men in Black: International” is heading for a $40 million launch in North America on the June 14-16 weekend, early tracking showed Thursday.

New Line’s opening of its “Shaft” sequel, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher and Richard Roundtree, should wind up in the $18 million range during the same frame, according to tracking services.

“Men in Black: International” will take place in the same universe as the previous trilogy with Emma Thompson reprising her role as Agent O. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson portray the new agents dealing with aliens among us. The plot centers on a mole in the Men in Black organization.

Kumail Nanjiani, Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall and twins Laurent and Larry Bourgeois also star. Sony is going day-and-date with a worldwide release for “Men in Black: International,” including a June 14 launch in China. The film is directed by F. Gary Gray and written by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, based on the Malibu Comic by Lowell Cunningham. Producers are Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald.

The budget for “Men in Black: International” is $110 million, co-financed by Hemisphere and Tencent.

The previous three “Men in Black” films starred Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones and combined for more than $1.6 billion in worldwide box office. All three scored North American debuts of more than $50 million.

Shaft” is the fifth film in the franchise and carries a $35 million budget. New Line bought the rights from Paramount in 2015. Usher plays John “JJ” Shaft Jr. as an FBI agent and a cybersecurity expert with a degree from MIT. Jackson plays his estranged father and Roundtree plays the original Shaft, as he did in the first three “Shaft” movies.

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