Fox Balks At Will Smith's $50 Mill Asking Price For "Independence Day" Sequels; May Do Without Him

by Tambay A. Obenson
October 28, 2011 1:36 AM
15 Comments
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As Vanessa posted a few days ago, Independence Day director Ronald Emmerich plans to revisit that blockbuster, turning it into a franchise with not one, but TWO more films. Emmerich and screenwriting partner Dean Devlin have reportedly already completed scripts for back-to-back sequels, and have turned them over to superstar Will Smith for his approval, because, as one might expect, Smith would play a key role in whether both films actually get made.

But that may not be quite the case, since new developments say that 20th Century Fox could go ahead with both films without Smith, if they decide that his demands are too steep.

What demands? Well, most significantly, Big Willie reportedly asks for $50 million to appear in both films, and Fox has thus far balked at the idea. There has also been talk about Poppa Smith wanting to include his wife and kids in the movie (says a New York magazine exclusive).

I haven't read/heard what the budget for each of the two sequels might be; but the first film had a production budget of $75 million (in 1995 dollars; adjusted for inflation, the number is more like $105 million).

Will's salary for that film was about $5 million; not bad, considering he certainly wasn't the proven box office champ that he would later become. I'd assume that any sequels to ID4 would cost more than $75 million. How much more, I don't know. But given the current budgets of many high-profile, special effects-laden blockbusters, I wouldn't be shocked if the budgets for ID4 parts 2 and 3 are in the $150 - $200 million range (including salaries of course). So Will Smith asking for $25 million for each isn't all that unreasonable is it? Given that he will likely headline each, and will be the main box office draw (along with the computer generated alien effects).

And if he wants to include his family in it... well... the question is, how badly do Fox and Emmerich want him in both films, and how crucial his appearance is to each film's box office success.

Smith hasn't appeared on screen since 2008's Seven Pounds, which was one of his least financially successful starring vehicles; so maybe the ambivalence on Fox's part is rooted in a concern that he may not be as much of a box office sure-thing as he's been in previous movies (and also because he's been away for 3 years and counting), and thus his $25 million per movie asking price isn't justified.

We'll see how this all shakes out. I haven't exactly been longing for ID4 sequels, but I'll probably still see them if they do get made, with or without Will Smith.

How about you all?

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15 Comments

  • Swint 3 | October 28, 2011 9:50 AMReply

    Will Smith gets around 20-25 million a picture, so asking for 50 million is not a big deal...............

  • Cherish | October 28, 2011 8:09 AMReply

    Will Smith is the first actor I think of when you mention INDEPENDENCE DAY. After him, Vivica Fox (admit bias since I'm black lol), and hmm, wasn't the President played by the dude in the Sandra Bullock movie?

    Anyway, Will may be one of the few movie stars who can still draw a big box office crowd on name alone. "May be", that is. I agree that they should wait to see how MIB3 does first.

    But its really not worth doing a sequel to INDEPENDENCE DAY without Will Smith. People will be disappointed if he isn't in it. Especially if the majority of the original cast will be. And unless they plan to bring a fresh new take on the 'Aliens invading Earth' story to attract the crowds(which they probably won't), might as well write Will his check and call it a day.

    sans the Smith family though. Really, Will. Even THAT is too much to digest.

  • Deus ex LurkerMa | October 28, 2011 7:54 AMReply

    Was never a huge fan of the original...surprisingly.

    He's asking for 50 mil plus residuals??? Hmmm. Either he wants them to pay him because he's worth it *slings hair like L'Oreal* or he's testing to see if they will actually pay him that amount or not.

    Studios might want to give him what he asks, especially if this MIB3 is successful. This could be another franchise for the fat studio execs. Give the man what he want.

  • Rasheed | October 28, 2011 6:58 AMReply

    As an actor, I'm like, "Get that loot!". As a director, I'm like, "Fuck you. You're last hit was when?" LOL!

    I think stars overvalue themselves, especially in huge f/x driven films like this. People who consider themselves ID4 fans (if such a thing even exists) are going to see the sequels with or without ANY of the original actors. Not to be a shill for Fox, but these sequels are actually a bit of a risk. The original is 15 years old! It was a huge hit, but the fact that the sequels are just now being developed tells me that no one was really interested in seeing the film turn into a franchise. Like MIB 3, the only reason we're seeing these films get made is because Hollywood is run by imagination-challenged marketing execs desperate for brand related material.

  • JMac | October 28, 2011 5:10 AMReply

    If Will's not there, I'd have no interest in ID. Give him the money. With a budget like that you know they'll make at least 5 or 6 times that amount esp. if all the original main characters appear.

    Besides, didn't he get $20 mil for MIB 3? $25 mil per film doesn't seem too bad and the budgets for each will probably be the same is MIB.

    Course I won't cry if he doesn't get it. Rich bastard.

  • Jug | October 28, 2011 5:09 AMReply

    @Leave it Be Will-True dat, but I'm also looking at it like this, Will is a MUCH different star than he was the first ID4, economically & creatively. He doesn't have to do those movies, but 20th wants to wrap him up for conceivably 2-4 years of shooting. He's a Sony guy, so that would throw many of those projects into turmoil. Plus it's a buyer's market so studios are punking every star. It's why you see so many of the old guard either doing movies with indie producers Nu Image, Relativity or going to TV.

    It could be "Hey, I like the movies & I'll do it....$50 Mil plus Jada & the kids or I walk". Hey he's already rehashing MIB so why do that again, right now. His boy Tom did one last MI & then quick fast jumped into two original franchises & a rock musical. Not to mention, as a matter of status, Daniel Radcliffe got $50 Mil for the last two POTTER films. Gotta keep up with the Joneses. I don't think 20th has the guts to make that movie without Will.

    I doubt I'd see it even if he was in it LOL

  • artbizzy | October 28, 2011 4:41 AMReply

    He truly must not want to do it. But if they agree, it's win-win for him. He gets all that money plus his wife and kid in the film. If they don't agree to his terms then he doesn't have to waste his time and spend time away from his family shooting another blockbuster, idiotic Hollywood film that's also ANOTHER sequel. In my opinion he should ask for more money and demand to get DJ Jazzy Jeff onboard.

  • Leave It Be Will | October 28, 2011 4:40 AMReply

    @Jug,

    I was going to say that, but then again it's ID, not Star Wars. Who's going to be upset if he comes out and says no? I'm thinking he just knows his worth, and is asking for what any A-List moviestar would.

  • Jug | October 28, 2011 4:16 AMReply

    Sometimes, in negotiations you ask for the moon so the other guy says no & you're not the bad guy, he killed the deal. Especially if you don't want to do the projects. We'll never truly know....

  • Ash | October 28, 2011 4:06 AMReply

    If Will Smith wants $50 million AND his WHOLE FAMILY in order to do this movie than he must not actually want to do it. Would he also like women to give him free BJ's by request in his trailer? However, if he just asked for the money then they might consider giving it to him or negotiating because without him they won't be nearly as successful.

  • truthserum | October 28, 2011 3:27 AMReply

    The first Independence Day grossed over 800 million worldwide. Considering Will Smith was only paid 5 million dollars when his drawing power was part of the reason for it's success I don't think his asking price is unreasonable. Johnny Depp has been paid 300 million dollars for his role in the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movies. I don't see the problem with Will requesting his worth. At the end of the day the studios will pay up.

    As for Jada and his kids being included in the movie I'm going to say no. I don't think people want them in the movie at all.

  • SayNay | October 28, 2011 3:06 AMReply

    I'm really on the fence about these Independence Day sequels. I don't think it's necessarily wrong of Will to ask $25 mil, but given he hasn't done a film since '08 I know Fox will definitely want to see those returns on MB3.

    I will say though that if ID3 and ID4 become a Smith family fest i.e. Jada and the kids, I'll pass. I can't hate on Will for wanting to build his family brand, but the Kardashians have officially killed any happy feelings I have toward celebrity families...talented or otherwise.

  • Allegra | October 28, 2011 2:58 AMReply

    I wish that Will Smith would do more movies but not prequels or sequels to his earlier films. When Men in Black III comes out in 2012, it will be his first major starring role in four years even though he has 38 other projects in various stages of development.

  • Dankwa Brooks | October 28, 2011 2:33 AMReply

    Oh and Will...keep the family at home...but if you insist I assume your kids will play your kids with Vivica. As much as Jada needs a job right now Vivica needs it more. Let Jada play the Secretary of State ot something. Send me a text if I'm out of line. (O_o)

  • Dankwa Brooks | October 28, 2011 2:30 AMReply

    I agree with fox, at this point NO. When he has proven that he can STILL put the butts in the seats like with 'Men in Black 3' then maybe yes. If MB3 is a bomb or mediocre earner ala 'Cowboys & Aliens' Will...will take a lower amount ala Vin Diesel who was "too big" to two franchise that made him xXx and Fast & Furious and returned to both when his star faded.

    I'm not mad at Will & his people though, how can HE NOT ask for a big payday. Everything is negotiable.

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