If you make an Independence Day sequel nearly 20 years later and Will Smith is too expensive, will anybody show up to buy a ticket? That great mystery of life will be put to the test assuming Independence Day 2 ever actually gets made. Producer Roland Emmerich has been talking about making an ID4 sequel for damn near two decades at this point, but it seems to have gained some small measure of momentum lately. Unfortunately, some of that momentum took a hit earlier this week when Emmerich revealed that Will Smith has priced himself out of participation, with his salary rising to a point where the production can’t afford him. But don’t despair! We’ll still be getting the other two legs of the Independence Day tripod, with actors Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman set to reprise their roles as David Levinson and (former?) President Thomas Whitmore, respectively.
Emmerich broke the (bad?) news while making the press rounds for White House Down, but he also told Movies.com that he hopes to lure Smith back for at least a cameo. The Independence Day sequels will apparently be about a 50/50 split between returning actors from the first one and new characters, so he hopes Smith could pop in long enough to “pass the torch,” presumably to whoever is the 2013 equivalent of 1996-era Will Smith. Then again, if Smith has a few more movies like After Earth, Smith might just become affordable again.
It’s still up for debate whether anybody out there is eagerly anticipating an Independence Day sequel, much less two of them. If so, and if you can’t get Will Smith back, I’d say Jeff Goldblum is definitely the next most important character to lock down. Actually, scratch that. I’d much rather see Jeff Goldblum’s twitchy scientist back on screen than Will Smith yet again playing a thinly disguised version of Will Smith. And as for Bill Pullman, it’ll be interesting to see what role his character occupies, since unless the U.S. of Independence Day has abolished term limits, he probably isn’t still President. But hey, I loved him as Hudson in Aliens. No, wait, that was Bill Paxton. But I loved Bill Pullman in HBO’s Big Love. Wait…
Men in Black 3 is probably a good proof of concept for the prospects of a new Independence Day sequel. The original ID4 came out in 1996. The first Men in Black came out in 1997, the second in 2002, and the third last year in 2012. The gap between Independence Day and its sequels would be quite a bit longer than between the second and third MIB sequels, but MIB 3 nevertheless did decently at the box office, taking in around $624 million worldwide. So who knows, maybe there is an audience out there for more Independence Day movies, with or without an injection of Big Willie Style.
The first Independence Day sequel is slated for release on July 3, 2015, which would put it up against a daunting potential summer lineup including Star Wars: Episode VII, The Avengers 2, and possibly a Justice League movie as well. We’ll just have to wait and see if America (and the rest of the movie-going world) has any interest in celebrating