The first “Independence Day” was a major box-office sensation when it was released in 1996. In some ways, it was a revolutionary film in terms of marketing. These days, more and more films seems to be reverse engineered from their marketing campaigns into movies, with little regard for whether or not the film is any good. It’s all about how easily it can be sold. You hate today’s climate of remakes and sequels and prequels and pre-existing properties above all else? Well, “Independence Day” was a major step along that path, and the only thing that surprises me about the notion of Fox revisiting the property is that it’s taken so long.
IESB reports that Will Smith, who has been a major sticking point in terms of getting a sequel off the ground, has arranged now to star in not one but two sequels, shooting back to back, with filming beginning as early as next year. Considering the sort of deals that Will Smith typically demands, and with this being a pair of sequels to one of the biggest films in the company’s history, expect Fox to pay out the nose for Smith on these films. I’d wager he won’t make a penny less than $50 million on the films before his back-end profit participation even kicks in.
IESB has a particularly strong track record when it comes to rumors regarding 20th Century Fox properties, so it’s probably a good idea to treat this like a strong probability.
The real question is how involved Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin are going to be, and how much they’re going to work together. Emmerich’s built a wildly successful (if creatively ridiculous) career for himself as a director, and Dean Devlin’s moved on to projects like the TV series “Leverage” and the “Librarian” TV movies. Their partnership seems to be long since dissolved, so reuniting them will be an interesting feat, particularly if it’s more than in name only.
The other thing that intrigues me is seeing where they’ll go with the story. The first film was a fairly simple alien invasion film, cobbled together from many precursors, and familiar from start to finish. It’s a film that felt like a remake even if it wasn’t. With “V” on the air right now, and with “District 9” having just played a very wicked riff on the formula, it’s going to take a genuinely fresh take on the idea to make these sequels feel like more than just “been there done that” again.
I’m not sure you need to bring back the full human cast from the first films, but I’m betting they’ll try to get Jeff Goldblum involved, and they should. He was the other MVP in the first film, and he can be counted on to elevate this sort of material with his presence. Beyond that, my guess is you’ll see lots of opportunities for new cast members, and a big ensemble like with the first film.
That’s all speculation, of course, since Smith is the only one named in the IESB report. We’ll start digging with sources of our own, and when (or if) there’s more to report about these sequels, we’ll bring it to you right here at HitFix.
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