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

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act October 28, 2011 at 1:36AM

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.
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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?

This article is related to: casting, Things That Make You Go Hmm...


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