”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].”
Words from Rolland Emmerich, director of the first Independence Day (or ID4) movie, released in 1996, discussing plot details for the next 2 sequels in what is obviously now a franchise. Emmerich was speaking with Entertainment Weekly while doing press for his upcoming thriller White House Down.
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 Smith to super-stardom status.
Emmerich and screenwriting partner Dean Devlin are obviously returning, having not completed scripts for both films, which are now in the hands of White House Down writer-producer James Vanderbilt for rewrites.
It's still not official whether or not Will Smith plans to return to the ID universe, although it was previously reported that Fox could go ahead with both films without him, if they decide that his demands are too steep.
What demands? Well, most significantly, from our last post on this several months back, Big Willie reportedly asks for $50 million to appear in both films, and Fox balked at the idea. There was also talk about Poppa Smith wanting to include his wife and kids in the movie (said a New York magazine exclusive).
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 - $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).
But wait a minute... given what Emmerich says in his quote above, Big Willie's presence may not be necessary at all, since, as he states, "it's a bit like the sons takeover."
As Entertainment Weekly adds in the piece, 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).
So 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 has to do with signing everyone they want to return for the sequels, and the money each might be asking.
And finally, co-writer Dean Devlin had this to add to the conversation in a past interview: "The thing that really hit me about the movie is how much love there is in it: between the characters; that the filmmakers had making it; that the cast had for each other. As we're approaching a sequel we're focusing on that aspect of it. Because I think that was really the key as to why it worked for everyone. It was lovable."
Alrighty then. Lots of love all around I guess.
Let's see if they can rekindle that love with the studio and audiences, and get ID Forever - Part 1 and ID Forever - Part 2, produced and released.
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.