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Waxing On Will Smith's Absence From 'Independence Day' Sequels + Who Will Succeed Him

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act June 25, 2013 at 1:00PM

”The humans knew that one day the aliens would come back [...] 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 [...] It’s still some of the same characters, but also new younger characters; it’s a little bit like the sons take over [...] 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].”
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ID4

”The humans knew that one day the aliens would come back [...] 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 [...] It’s still some of the same characters, but also new younger characters; it’s a little bit like the sons take over [...] 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].”

Revisiting this on the heels of the announcement that Will Smith likely won't be returning for the Independence Day (ID4) sequels, because he's "too expensive," according to director Rolland Emmerich

It really shouldn't be too much of a shocker that Big Willie won't return,

As we already know, Twentieth Century Fox plans to back, not one, but 2 sequels to the film that we could say helped launch Will to super-stardom status.

It was previously reported, about a year ago, that Fox wasn't at all against going ahead with both films without Will, if they decided that his demands were too steep.

What demands? Well, most significantly, you might recall that, last year, Big Willie reportedly asked for $50 million to appear in both films, and Fox balked at the idea. There was also talk of Poppa Smith wanting to include his wife and kids in the movie (said New York magazine).

Will's salary for the first 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 the $75 million the original film did. How much more, I don't know. But given the current budgets of many high-profile, special effects-laden, 3D blockbusters (oh yeah, the sequels will be in 3D), I wouldn't be shocked if the budgets for ID4 parts 2 and 3 are in the $150 - $250+ million range (including salaries of course). 

So Will Smith asking for $25 million for each isn't all that unreasonable, is it? Given that, if he was to headline each sequel, he would most likely be the main box office draw (along with the computer generated alien effects).

Of course, one could argue that Will's box office appeal (especially domestic) may have taken a little bit of a beating, since his last 3 films since 2008 (MIB3 aside), weren't quite the box office smashes that may have been expected by the studios. Although they all did quite well globally. But I say all that to suggest that Will's asking price may seem too high to Fox, because the studio may not be sure that he's still worth the money.

But also, given what Emmerich says in his quote above about Big Willie's presence not being necessary at all, since, as he states, "it's a bit like the sons takeover," it could be that Will Smith wasn't expected to be part of the sequels in the first place - at least, not in any meaningful way.

Ross Bagley
Ross Bagley

As already reported, the story-lines will focus on a new generation of human heroes, including Will Smith's character's eventual stepson (Vivica Fox's kid) in ID4 (played by Ross Bagley, now 24 years old).

Some of the original cast will be back (Emmerich doesn't say whether Bagley will return to play an older version of himself, or if a new actor will be cast to play the part) in 2 films that will begin 20+ years after the first film. 

Bill Pullman has already confirmed that he's definitely game for returning. I wonder if Vivica Foxx will as well...

The 2 films will be called: ID Forever - Part 1, and ID Forever - Part 2

It was previously reported that both films will be shot in 2D, and then post-converted to 3D (which I don't quite understand; why not just shoot 3D?); although Emmerich has already said that he's not too high on 3D. But it may not be solely his decision to make.

He added that there was a struggle between the studio and the actors, although he didn't say what exactly that struggle was; maybe it had to do with signing everyone they want to return for the sequels, and the money each may have been asking.

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

In closing, a survey question for you all - who'd be on your short list to star as Will Smith's stepson? It's not like there are a lot of names to choose from anyway. The usual suspects who fit the bill (notably age, and name recognition) include Michael B. JordanBrandon T. Jackson, maybe even Donald Glover. And don't count Jaden Smith out. He'd be too young for the part, but I'm sure they would shape the story around him so it works, if they really wanted him. In 2015 when the first sequel is released, he'd be 17.

Who else?


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