One of the greatest books on film is easily Julie Salamon’s The Devil’s Candy, which chronicled every bad turn Brian De Palma’s adaptation of Bonfire of the Vanities took. At this point, one hopes there’s an author on set of Men in Black III, as there’s undoubtedly a great story to be told about its production. Having hired a new writer mid-shoot, and having delayed production again recently, the film took another hit when Alec Baldwin told Vulture Monday he had to drop out, but was moving on to the Adam Shankman-directed, Tom Cruise-starring musical Rock of Ages.

Alec Baldwin is one of the leads on 30 Rock,” and so his dropping out isn’t necessarily a slight against the beleaguered third film in the Men in Black franchise. Likely “scheduling conflicts” is not PR talk in this case as Baldwin is surely locked in to certain dates for his television show.  And if Baldwin announced that he was out of Men in Black III, this is something that the filmmakers knew about prior to his announcement.

But still, it’s hard not to wonder what’s going on with the third film with all these public production problems. Even though the second film was viewed as a misfire by virtually everyone involved it also made over $400 Million worldwide, and Will Smith is still one of the world’s biggest movie stars, so if the third film recaptured the magic of the first film, surely all would be forgiven. But the third film seems a victim of franchise filmmaking, where a studio wants a picture for a certain period of the year and wants to make a release date above all else. And though a third film had been rumored and likely work-shopped shortly after the second film was released in 2002, it seems that they have yet to be happy with the material.

The Sydney Pollack film Tootsie was considered a tortuous production, as there were a number of writers brought on board, with few making star Dustin Hoffman happy. But now the film is considered a classic, so there’s evidence the film could be saved. With the public scrutiny that comes with this film’s troubled production its makers must be covered in flop sweat.

Adam Shankman’s adaptation of the broadway play Rock of Ages is supposed to shoot this summer, with Cruise, Baldwin, Mary J. Blige, and Julianh Hough currently attached.

Did Alec Baldwin choose the right movie?