The long-awaited third Film in the “Bad Boys” franchise, titled “Bad Boys For Life,” was due to shoot at the end of this year with “The A-Team” director Joe Carnahan in the director’s chair, to be released as soon as next year. However, it’s now being reported that Carnahan has departed from the film, leaving it hanging precariously in the balance.

Sequel in the works since 2003

Bad Boys II” was released in 2003 and quickly became a cult classic (“You ain’t seen “Bad Boys II?”“) and ever since then, fans of the chaotic Will Smith/Martin Lawrence cop movies have been waiting for part three to be made.

The long gestation period of the film can be attributed to a number of factors. It’s gone through the development mill of director changes and script revisions a million times, and its stars have never been happy with the script. Lawrence always had a problem with it, and while Smith will happily appear in Netflix’s “Bright” from a Max Landis script, Sony had a hard time getting The Fresh Prince to agree to return to the role that, paired with “Men in Black,” made him an A-list action star.

One could argue that, politically, now is not exactly the right time for an action comedy about trigger-happy cops, but this is “Bad Boys.” It’s not political. It doesn’t take place in the real world. It’s pure escapism.

Word has it Carnahan had written the most recent version of the screenplay for the threequel and was all ready to shoot before this hiccup.

Carnahan seemed like the perfect director for ‘Bad Boys 3’

Bad Boys” fans could rejoice back in 2015 when Carnahan was hired to rewrite the script for the third film and then helm it, because it seemed like things were looking up and they’d soon be seeing the film they were so excited for.

And Carnahan seemed like a great choice for director: he’s handled the kind of big-scale anarchic action sequences that the “Bad Boys” films are iconic for in his own filmography, from his big-screen version of “The A-Team” to more intimate thrill-rides like “The Grey” starring Liam Neeson and a pack of wolves.

But now the studio is going to have to find someone else to replace Michael Bay for “Bad Boys For Life” as, while no official statement has yet been released to clarify, sources have told The Hollywood Reporter, Carnahan is too busy working on his American remake of Indonesian action thriller “The Raid” with actor Frank Grillo.

Creative differences may also have played a part, as it often does with these big-budget Hollywood movies where the director wants to craft the best film they can but the producers’ main concern is to see a worthwhile return on their massive investment.

For now, Sony will be scrambling to find a new director for “Bad Boys For Life,” which likely won’t be making its 2018 release date anymore, so fans will have to wait a little longer. They can find solace, however, in the fact that “Bad Boys 4” has been announced to follow “Bad Boys 3,” so it should be worth the wait if we’re getting two for the price of one (not literally - cinemas will expect you to pay for both tickets).