Let’s kick the tires and light the fires, boys. There may be two Independence Day sequels in the works. Word is, Fox is planning on back-to-back sequels to follow up on the hugely successful 1996 film, but they may end up having to move forward without Will Smith.
New York Magazine got the story, stating that director Roland Emmerich and screenwriter Dean Devlin are working together on finishing up the scripts for two Independence Day sequels. The original film followed an alien attack on the world, and focused on a number of characters who proved crucial to the resistance. According to NY Mag, attempts were made to get action star Will Smith back on board to reprise his role as Captain Stephen Hiller for the sequels, however that apparently stalled after Smith asked for $50 million in exchange for appearing in both films. For reference, if you’re curious as to what Smith makes per film these days, IMDB has his salary listed as $20 million for Men in Black III. Doing the math there, it sounds like he’s looking for $10 million more than his usual fee for the two movies... or he was back in 2009.
Smith’s requested salary added to whatever Emmerich is making for directing was apparently an issue, however it didn’t halt the project. While it sounds like the question of Smith’s involvement has been put on hold, Emmerich and Devlin have been focusing their attention on the story and are expected to have the scripts in to Fox by mid-December.
While no plot description is mentioned for these movies, the two sequels will apparently be separate films but joined together much in the way the second two Back to the Future movies were, as opposed to being one story cut in half the way Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was.
The NY Magazine says their sources say Fox is willing move forward with the project without Smith. It seems likely that this would delay the films though, assuming Hiller plays as big a role in the sequels as he did in the original film. The other option would be to recast the role, but that seems unlikely (or a mission for disaster). They’d be better off setting the story in the future and writing it around Hiller and Jasmine’s kids or something.
Speaking of kids, NY Magazine notes that Smith has been busy working to help his kids careers take off, working on a remake of Annie for Willow, and a sequel to the remade The Karate Kid for Jaden. Between that and Men in Black III, doing another major sequel or two seems like the natural course to take.
If they can't get Will Smith back, my vote goes to Adam Baldwin's character Major Mitchell getting a beefed up role in the sequels, returning to shoot at even more aliens through panes of glass.