It seems Director Roland Emmerich may finally get his shot at a sequel to his 1996 hit “Independence Day.” Emmerich recently told Entertainment Weekly’s Adam Markovitz that he has completed a pair of screenplays– “Independence Day Forever” Parts 1 and 2– with co-writer Dean Devlin.
Since “Independence Day,” Emmerich has made a brand out of American disaster drama. After leveling the White House with an alien laser beam, he went on to flatten Manhattan in “Godzilla” (1998), bury the Statue of Liberty under snow and ice in “The Day After Tomorrow” (2004), and sinks most of California into the Pacific in “2012.” Yet, before a pair of “Independence Day” follow-ups actually reach the silver screen (nearly two decades removed from the original), Emmerich still needs a few things to fall into place.
ScreenRant.com confirms that Bill Pullman has agreed to reprise his role as Thomas Whitmore. Whitmore was, in the first “Independence Day” film, the President of the United States– although it seems unclear if his character would still be President in the sequels. The larger stumbling block is Will Smith.
Smith’s role in the original “Independence Day” was crucial in re-branding the actor as an action hero following 146 Episode starring run as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. But Smith, who has since played a franchise lead in “Men In Black,” “Bad Boys,” and the upcoming “I, Robot 2,” seems to have little interest in signing up for yet another long-term commitment to a sci-fi/action trilogy.
Emmerich has insisted that a plan is in place to go forward with the film even without Will Smith. But the film would be infinitely more sellable with Smith attached. This piece is especially in the 15-25 year old crowd, who may be too young to remember the original film.
For Emmerich to secure funding and studio support to bring “Independence Day Forever” to the screen, he and his associates must demonstrate that there is an appetite for the long delayed sequel. Sequels are typically attractive properties for Hollywood, because they have a “built in audience,” a group of people who saw the first film and will return to the theater to see what happens next. But it is difficult to guess if, 17 years after the release of the first “Independence Day” film, there is still an audience anxious to learn what happens next.
Consider the tepid box office results for Ridley Scott’s much-hyped “Alien” prequel “Prometheus,” which debuted in 2012 following the 1997 conclusion of the first “Alien” series. Or the Colin Firth remake of “Total Recall,” (2012) which fell flat after fans of the 1990 original showed little interest. “Independence Day Forever” will have to do much better if it is to not only secure funding, but also catapult the franchise to completion of an already-written third film.
Emmerich’s announcement of the completion of two screenplays to extend the “Independence Day” franchise is no guarantee that the movies themselves will ever reach the screen. But for fans of the original “Independence Day,” there is some hope that the announcement will generate the public support necessary to finally get the ball rolling.
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