Roland Emmerich has been developing two sequels to his 1996 hit Independence Day for a number of years now, but the lack of commitment from Will Smith may be why nothing has really moved forward. Back in 2010 Emmerich hinted that Will Smith’s character Steven Hiller would be President of the United States of America in the films, however as the original made $800 million worldwide Smith would obviously want a big pay-day for the sequels, something 20th Century Fox may not be willing to give (we’re talking an upfront fee and then a % of the profits kind of deal).
Whether Smith is involved or not Emmerich still appears to be moving forward with the films, and the director revealed some story details while promoting his next movie White House Down.
”The humans knew that one day the aliens would come back,” explains the director, who completed two scripts with Independence Day co-writer Dean Devlin and has given them to White House Down writer-producer James Vanderbilt for a rewrite. ”And they know that the only way you can really travel in space is through wormholes. So for the aliens, it could take two or three weeks, but for us that’s 20 or 25 years.”
“It’s a changed world. It’s like parallel history. [Humans] have harnessed all this alien technology. We don’t know how to duplicate it because it’s organically-grown technology, but we know how to take an antigravity device and put it in a human airplane,” he explains.
Given that an appearance from Will Smith is still up in the air, Emmerich is shifting some of the focus onto other characters:
And while there may be some familiar faces in the sequels — Bill Pullman has already confirmed that he is onboard; Will Smith has not — their storylines will focus on a new generation of human heroes, including the stepson of Will Smith’s Independence Day character (played in that film by Ross Bagley). “It’s still some of the same characters, but also new younger characters; it’s a little bit like the sons take over,” says Emmerich, who promises that the first sequel will have a cliffhanger ending to keep audiences coming back for more. “The first one ends on a little success, but only enough to give the humans hope. And then in the second one they free themselves again [from the aliens].”