It looks like Will Smith has priced himself out of the role that first made him a box office champ.
Director Roland Emmerich is working on not one but two sequels to his 1996 sci-fi thriller "Independence Day," which was Smith's first true blockbuster hit, grossing over $300 million in the United States alone (it debuted the same year "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" went off the air). But the filmmaker has announced the franchise is moving on without Smith.
"Will Smith cannot come back because he’s too expensive, but he’d also be too much of a marquee name," Emmerich told reporters on Monday.
Emmerich first floated the idea for a pair of "ID4" follow-ups in 2011, but the project stalled, because Smith reportedly wanted $50 million to appear in the movies. Smith hasn't gotten much more affordable in the past two years, and besides, in the wake of "After Earth," there's reason to question Smith's continued ability to open a movie on a grand scale.
As it happens, Emmerich hopes to add some fresh faces for the "Independence Day" sequels and give the project an ensemble feel.
"We have like maybe half of the people that you know would know from the first film [in the sequels], and the other half people who are new," Emmerich said.
While Emmerich insists he has two "Independence Day" sequels in the works, tentatively titled "ID Forever Part One" and "ID Forever Part Two," so far 20th Century Fox has only given the first picture the green light, apparently waiting to see how it fares before committing to the second. "ID Forever" is currently slated to open in theaters on July 3, 2015.
If Will Smith wants to remind himself of his past hits, he has plenty of chances for that soon; he's attached to sequels to "Hancock" and "I, Robot," and is rumored to be teaming up with Martin Lawrence for a third "Bad Boys" flick. And before Emmerich starts work on the "ID4" sequels, he'll be busy doing publicity for "White House Down," his four-barreled action vehicle starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx that opens in theaters June 28.
Note to Roland Emmerich: If Will Smith is too expensive, have you considered hiring Jaden or Willow for the picture? They work a lot cheaper than their dad, and Will clearly likes to see his kids earning their allowance.