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This Is Getting Ridiculous: 'Taken 3' Pays $20 Million for Liam Neeson and 'Independence Day 2' Can't Afford Will Smith

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Jun 25, 2013 | 4:10pm EDT

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Every few months, you'll indubitably receive a phone call from your alma mater — no matter how many times you change your cell phone number, they always seem to track you down in their tireless pursuit of donations. And no matter how strapped for cash you are, no matter what percentage of your funds are tied up in that new App your old roommate has been developing ("It tells you how many washing machines are free in your designated laundromat! We'll be rich!"), you bear in mind one tried and true fact: these are your roots. Your launchpad. That to which you owe all of your success stories to date. So as such, you always dig deep into your pockets and graciously offer every last penny you can.

Oh, no? You don't? Well... that's understandable. Because you're not a freakin' millionaire. At least not until Who's Washin'? takes off. But you know who has money to spare now? Will Smith. So when his roots, his launchpad, that to which he owes his countless, unparalleled success stories comes a calling, you'd better expect that he'd at least be willing to donate his time. Nay, Smith doesn't seem to be answering this call — according to Roland Emmerich, director of Independence Day (the film that turned Smith into a bona fide blockbuster star), the actor is "too expensive" to take part in the developing sequel.

Emmerich cites Smith's hefty paycheck requirements as the reason that the movie star "can not come back" for Independence Day 2, speaking to The Daily News. Emmerich hedges a bit, explaining that the sequel will fare better without Smith. "He'd also be too much of a marquee name. It would be too much." However, devoted fans of the 1996 sci-fi hit will be glad to hear from Emmerich's conversation with Movies.com that Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman will both be back for Round 2. Of course, neither performer has seen the sort of success that has befallen Will Smith since '96. But within the realm of Independence Day, this should not detract from their value. We want them back in the new movie not because of how well they've done since the first one, but because of how well they did in the first one. Just as well as Smith, if not better (I'm a Goldblum man through and through).

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Then there's a similar situation associated with the third chapter of Liam Neeson's Taken franchise. Another property that can be credited with branding its star anew, Taken 3 is roping in Neeson to headline once more... and is paying him $20 million to do so, as reported by Deadline. But hey, at least he's doing the movie. He might be accepting a heap of dough that makes America's working class population collectively grumble over frozen dinner plates, but he's in it. He knows where his loyalties lie.

Now, we can't say for sure whether Emmerich approached Smith only to be shot down by salary stipulations, or if he's just ballparking the average Smith paycheck and deciding based on his estimations that Independence Day 2 needs to exist without him. If it's the former, we're hoping Smith realizes that this is where he came from, and as such should give back to those who made him. Without Independence Day, Will, you might never have made it to the big leagues. And it's not like you have any nostalgia shame...

Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter | Follow hollywood.com on Twitter @hollywood_com

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