A few short weeks ago, 20th Century Fox announced they are building a sequel to the 1996 smash, Independence Day, which originally starred Will Smith, and arguably made his entire career. What they also said is that Mr. Smith is too expensive to have back for the second installment.
What a disappointment.
I know, negativity is abound, but hear me out.
Will Smith was one time a major star, up until a couple recent flops (namely After Earth) he could do almost anything on screen and people would cheer for him. including myself in that statement too, I can’t argue that he is usually a very good performer and a joy to watch - Bad Boys 1 & 2 are some of my favorite movies of all time, Men in Black and MIB2, Enemy Of The State, Independence Day!? Those were all fantastic, I remember seeing Independence Day on opening night when I was a kid, and if the fire marshal knew how many people were crammed into the theater to see this film he would have had a stroke. It was the highest grossing film of 1996, and is ranked 38th on the all time earners list.
So what’s that mean?
It means Fox can afford not to be so insanely cheap, and they need Will Smith, and Will Smith needs them.
Currently “Mr. Bel-Air” makes about $25,000,000 a picture, the first movie had a combined box office take of $816,969,268 – on top of that is the money they made from VHS, DVD, BluRay (which will go up when the sequel is released), and TOYS! Kids go ape-shit for alien toys, and these days it’s all about the video game. Independence Day could actually be a good game if it were done in the right hands…
The point is, Fox can easily afford to have Will Smith back in the franchise that skyrocketed him to stardom almost 20 years ago, even if the movie costs $250,000,000 to make.
Independence Day 2 is being done by Roland Emmerich (White House Down) who is no stranger to a big name african-american leading man, he just worked with Jamie Foxx in the above mentioned White House Down, and Jamie Foxx is one of the hottest people to put in a movie right now after his role in Django Unchained.
When I heard the news about ID2, The first thing I said was “Is Will Smith in it?” because that’s what you expect. People want to see Will Smith doing what he does best, smack talking aliens, being a badass and making you laugh while he does it. That is when he is at his best, and when the production companies behind him reap all the benefits.
There is still time for 20th Century Fox to come to it’s senses, and I can only hope they do… Don Cheadle and Jeff Goldblum doesn’t have the same ring to it.