Can the ID4 sequels fly without Will Smith?

Posted by David Konow

Regular readers know we’re big fans of Independence Day, or ID4 as it’s often called, and we’ve been following the developments of the potential sequels since they were announced last year.

Yes, that’s sequels – plural. The writing / directing team of Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin have gotten back together again, and they finally feel that now’s the time to return with two movies, ID Forever, Parts One and Two.

 
Devlin told the Hollywood Reporter, "Creatively for the very first time since we did the original, I feel we have a worthy concept, a worthy path to go…We still wanted to honor the first one. The first one gave us all careers. We only wanted to do it when we had an idea and a concept that creatively felt like it honored the first one."
 
It’s been a long time since ID4 came out in the summer of 1996 and became a huge blockbuster. Is there still enough goodwill out there for ID4? And will the fans be back in huge numbers like the first one? Actually, the real question is can Devlin and Emmerich meet Will Smith’s price? (He reportedly wants $50 million for both films). And if 20th Century Fox can’t pay the big bucks Smith demands, can the ID4 sequels fly without him? 
 
Recently, Bill Pullman told Total Film that the ID4 films could indeed move ahead without Smith, although Fox seems unwilling to move ahead without a commitment from Smith.

Yet Pullman said, "The Will Smith part of it may be ongoing but I think there’s strategies for both. I like what I have to do in both of them. It’s a very interesting conception of what happens to Whitmore between then and when it picks back up." 

 
You may also recall there was going to be a 3D conversion of ID4, which was going to come out this July 3 and go head to head with The Lone Ranger, but it got yanked by Fox with no explanation.  

An ID4 re-release would be a good test to see if audiences would be down for two more movies, but it would much harder to gauge whether movie-goers would be back without Smith. Like any great disaster film, ID4 also boasted a great ensemble cast, and it would be nice to see Jeff Goldblum, Pullman, Vivica Fox, and Judd Hirsch return as well.