Mike Fleming

wsEXCLUSIVE: After spending several years looking to generate a sequel or two to the 1996 Fox smash hit Independence Day, it looks like director Roland Emmerich and co-writer and producer Dean Devlin are going to have to take on those Earth-leveling aliens without Will Smith. I’m told reliably that Smith informed the studio that he won’t be joining in on a sequel that the filmmakers hope to have in theaters for July 4 weekend, 2016. That marks the 20th anniversary of the 1996 original that grossed $811 million worldwide and launched Smith on a trajectory to become the world’s most bankable movie star.

Now, this doesn’t mean that the ID4 sequel can’t happen. In fact, Fox is very keen to see it through and what studio wouldn’t want another installment of such a big movie? When Emmerich and Devlin wrote the first draft before handing it over to The Amazing Spider-Man scribe James Vanderbilt, they hatched two distinctly different versions of the movie. Vanderbilt has been working on two separate scripts. One has Smith as the centerpiece, and the other takes the battle to the aliens without his cocky hero fighter pilot Captain Steven Hiller. I don’t believe that Smith has had the final conversation yet with Emmerich, but that will likely happen shortly. I was told not to set this in stone, because Smith has been back and forth before on whether to make the movie, though I hear he is pretty much decided.

Smith, who next stars with The Wolf Of Wall Street‘s Margot Robbie in the grifter tale Focus for Warner Bros, is also not expected to reprise his role as Jay in the next Men In Black, as Sony Pictures works on a reboot of that franchise. On that one, it has been incredibly difficult for the studio to make any money despite high ticket sales because of the gross paid to all the high priced principals on the film.

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