Back in 1996, a little movie about Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum saving the world from aliens was a gigantic success. It was called Independence Day, it showed the White House getting blown up, and it raked in about $800m in worldwide sales. I don’t have any numbers in front of me to prove this next statement, but let me shuffle some papers around on my desk to pretend like I have them somewhere and then just say it: Independence Day is one of the biggest box office successes of the last 20 years to not get a sequel. In a society where everyone is always asking for more, it’s crazy that we’ve only seen Smith punch an alien once. And that’s not just me talking, Fox thinks it’s crazy too. That’s why, since back in 2009, they’ve been doing everything they can to get back-to-back Independence Day sequels off the ground.
The holdup has been money issues. First, director Roland Emmerich wanted an undisclosed, but very hefty sum of money to come back and blow up some more famous landmarks. And then star Will Smith was reportedly asking for $50mto come on board the lengthy shoot. Spending that much money just to get two men attached to a project would be pretty asinine, so things had stalled out on the Independence Day sequels front, until very recently. Vulture is reporting that an inside source has let them know that the finishing touches are being put on the scripts for the two new movies now, and the studio is prepared to move forward with or without Will Smith.
Of course, that makes me wonder how they could move forward without Smith. If he doesn’t agree to star, wouldn’t the scripts have to be completely rewritten anyways? Wouldn’t that take them back to square one? The realm of blockbuster alien invasion movie sequels that cost hundreds of millions of dollars is a complex one. The Vulture insider does seem to be pretty confident in his knowledge of the current scripts, though. He knows enough to tell the mag, “They’re intended to be fulfilling movies onto themselves — you could see each separately and enjoy them — but they tell one big story.” This guy must be on the level.
So I guess it all just comes down to the question of Will Smith. Will they be able to use the scripts as is, or will they have to restructure them to shoe-horn a new character in, because Smith won’t blink from his asking price? I’m sure, at this point, Emmerich is ready to come on board either way. With his latest movie about Shakespeare not even getting a wide release, I’d imagine he’s ready to get back on track with the kind of huge box office numbers that only a sequel to a dumb disaster movie can post. And you know what? Screw Will Smith anyway! Are you trying to tell me that Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman can’t open a movie in 2012?