Over recent years Roland Emmerich has been gearing up not one but two sequels to Independence Day, the 1996 movie which made $800m worldwide. Back in 2009 it was a case of money, with 20th Century Fox reluctant to give Will Smith and Emmerich a big piece of the pie (an upfront fee and then a % of the profits).
Now Vulture brings word that Emmerich and screenwriting partner Dean Devlin are putting the finishing touches to the two scripts, and “they’re expected to be delivered to Fox by early to mid-December”. The site has also heard “Fox is willing to make the movies without Smith” if a deal can’t be made.
Last year Emmerich hinted that Smith would have an important role the films, saying:
“It’s an alternate reality kind of movie,” he said. “We pick up the story, what would have happened after this kind of attack? Naturally, the alien technology has changed everything.”
“Did they rebuild the White House? Who will be president? “Or, who will be president?” Emmerich answered. “Who will be president? See?”
Yep, if Will signs he’ll most likely be playing President Stephen Hiller, instead of Captain. Vulture points out that Smith doesn’t have his next movie completely locked as One Thousand A.E., which has M. Night Shyamalan directing and his son Jaden Smith co-starring, is “going extra-slow on preproduction”. This increases the likelihood of Smith returning for the Independence Day sequels, but the key factor will probably be $$$.
Fox could make the movies without him and introduce new leads. The success of Roland’s 2012 and the Transformers franchise is evidence that you don’t need big stars if you’re just causing destruction, but having Smith involved would help getting audiences on-board.