Two 'Independence Day' Sequels Being Written: No Part for Will Smith?
It’s taken a scant 15 years since “Independence Day” became an all-time summer box office smash (grossing over $800 million), but 20th Century Fox apparently feels more than ready for two more rounds with the ugly, telepathic aliens who reduced the White House to kindling.
And Will Smith, we’ll apparently go to war with or without you.
New York Magazine reports that director Roland Emmerich and producing and screenwriting cohort Dean Devlin are readying scripts for not just one but two sequels.
Neither apparently hinges upon Smith reprising his role as wise-acre, balls-of-brass Stephen Hiller. Once upon a time in 2009, Fox was putting together a way they could bring Smith on board but nixed that idea when they looked at the bottom line and realized they couldn’t afford both Smith’s requested $50 million and Emmerich’s demands.
The New York article claims that the scripts – supposedly due no later than December this year – will tell a connected story but tell it via two stand-alone parts, likened more to the last two “Back To The Future” movies than the two-part “Harry Potter” finale.
Smith has been curiously Hollywood-AWOL for a while; his last film prior to shooting the upcoming “Men in Black III” – which the article similarly describes as another negotiation from Hell, with Sony playing the part of Fox – was the 2008 drama “Seven Pounds.”
But once upon a time pretty much starting with “Independence Day,” a Will Smith blockbuster was as much a crucial part of the July 4 weekend and summer in general as hot dogs, beer, bikinis and fireworks.
“Men in Black III” won’t even arrive in theaters until 2012. Since 2008, he’s been more active with launching his kids’ budding careers; most recently, he’s developing a remake of “Annie” to ensure that no further eardrums bleed from his daughter Willow’s horrible pop music, and a sequel to his son Jaden’s “The Karate Kid” remake that I’ve heard wasn’t nearly as ill-advised or poorly executed as most remakes.
Sony has announced that Smith is attached – along with Jaden – to star in M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming “One Thousand A.E.”
Though Bill Pullman is reportedly down to return to the “Independence Day” franchise, he wasn’t really the movie’s most crucial hero. Smith was absolutely the movie’s heart, soul and most importantly, personality. Jeff Goldblum could probably be brought on-board easily, since I believe the most notable thing he’s done lately was join the “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” cast during that show’s final year.
But Smith, for as much as I think he’s very one-note in his action movie roles, had about 99 percent of the first movie’s best lines and most memorable moments. In addition, he was the only one in the movie that brought some serious action-hero credibility. Goldblum was Goldblum, but if you’ve seen him in “Jurassic Park,” you’ve seen him in “Independence Day.” Similar for Pullman, who was mostly just bland enough that I remember him solely for the “Today we celebrate our Independence Day!” proclamation.
If these movies are to go as big as I think Fox will want to go, doing these without Smith will leave audiences feeling about as empty as making an “X-Men” movie where Cyclops and Professor Xavier die by the midpoint of the movie.
Um, Fox . . . you do remember how that turned out, right?
Do ‘em with Smith, or don’t do them at all.