It’s no grand secret that 20th Century-Fox would love to make sequels to Roland Emmerich’s 1996 classic alien invasion flick Independence Day. Hey, no one ever said classics actually need to be good, they just need to be relevant and important to the time period they came from. To that end, ID4 can easily be considered one the ‘ones that got away’ for the studio. It grossed just shy of $900 million in world-wide box-office revenue; and that’s not even beginning to guess how much coin it ranked in from marketing tie-ins (anyone else have found memories of the game for Sega Saturn?), cable licensing fees, and DVD/Blu-ray sales. Basically, it’s one of the rare billion dollar films that a studio hasn’t made into a franchise.
Until now. If IESB.net’s reports are true, Fox is finally making moves on not one, but two sequels to Independence Day. It would seem that the major hold-up in the past has been the cost of having Will Smith, one of the highest paid actors in history, return for a sequel. Things have changed a little bit for the studio in the last few months, though. Will Smith still commands the same pay scale, but a little movie about blue cat people on an alien planet has made them a buck or two and sources say they’re sure going to spend it.
Let’s imagine for a second that Fox drops some of their Avatar money to secure Smith for ID5 and ID6; where do they take the franchise? The obvious guess is to the stars. One would like to assume that if they’re going to pull a Pirates of the Caribbean and film the sequels back-to-back, they must have some kind of rudimentary frame work in place. The clear bet is that the first sequel will find the aliens sending some kind of force back to Earth 15+ years later. Smith and Vivica A. Fox are going to be middle aged, while their son should be in his early twenties. Smith’s posting at NASA poises him to be right at the center of the new invasion, while his son, no doubt having followed his father’s footsteps into the Air Force, will get caught up in a Shia LeBeouf-esque sidekick role who may or may not be the progeny for a second franchise down the line.
A lot of “Awww, Hells Naw!” will abound and Earth will probably be saved for the time being. The threat isn’t over, of course, and so ID6 will find Smith and the governments of the world (remember, ID4 was all about putting aside differences in a time of crisis) sending the secret spaceships they’ve been reverse engineering from the alien wreckage left over from 15 years prior toward the alien home world as a countermeasure. This way we’re not seeing two films worth of aerial battles in boring Earth air and the studio gets a crack at creating another alien planet to hopefully wow repeat viewers the way Pandora did.
And really, is there any where else they can go with the franchise? They can’t make two films about Earth getting attacked, nor can they make two films about Earth invading another planet. The only logical course is to split the difference across the pair of films. I haven’t exactly been wracking my brain to exhaust all the possibilities, but if these two sequels move forward and if Will Smith is attached to both, I’ll be shocked if they don’t follow that basic path above. The big question is, will they bring back Jeff Goldblum? He hasn’t exactly aged as gracefully as Smith has (not a problem since Smith’s 20-something son will allow the studio to put sex appeal back into their equation), but he’s still working and he’s still got the same charm, so if they wanted to make it a buddy movie in space, they’ve certainly got the makings for it lined up.
Personally, I’m game if they take that two-part ball and run with it. Independence Day is one of those movies that I still love to watch even if older, wiser me now realizes how stupid it is (and yet it’s still strangely Roland Emmerich’s best film). I don’t hold the material in any kind of high regard, so I’m perfectly fine with them taking it in whatever direction they see fit. And I even think there are some cool places they can take it. My only remaining concern at this point is how they’re going to top Smith punching an alien in the face and saying, “Welcome to Earth.” Lightning like that just doesn’t strike twice.