The reaction Fox had to his demand is probably how most of us would have responded also.
The creative team behind Independence Day have been working on scripts and are getting ready to start filming back-to-back sequels soon. But Big Willie might be out in the cold, thanks to his sense of self-worth.
Roland Emmerich and his old producing and screenwriting partner Dean Devlin are now putting the finishing touches on back-to-back sequel scripts to 1996’s Independence Day, the $800 million worldwide hit that first taught them the importance of blowing major landmarks to hell. But whether Will Smith will be back to to welcome more aliens to Earth as Captain Stephen Hiller is still a question mark: Fox started working on structuring a deal to sign him back in early 2009, but the world’s last bankable action star was seeking $50 million to shoot both ID2 and ID3 back-to-back, and Fox balked at so large a price tag in combination with Emmerich’s own hefty salary demands to direct. “The delay wasn’t about whether they both wanted to make the movie,” explains one insider, “It had more to do with ‘Whose [johnson] is bigger?’” Nothing has been yet settled, because almost a year ago all concerned parties elected to retreat and focus instead on first getting the scripts right; they’re expected to be delivered to Fox by early to mid-December of this year at the latest. Insiders tell us that Fox is willing to make the movies without Smith, if necessary, but he is what helps make the films a sure thing: Can the stuck-in-neutral movie business, let alone Fox, afford to lose him?
Little is known about the two ID sequels, other than that they will tell a single story, but will be engineered more in the Back to the Future Parts 2 and 3 sequential-but-not-imperative model than like the last two Harry Potters, which was essentially one movie split in two. As our insider puts it, “They’re intended to be fulfilling movies onto themselves — you could see each separately and enjoy them — but they tell one big story.” The fact that they will be shot back-to-back is especially appealing to Smith, who’s sought to spend more time with his family in recent years.
Now, in Will’s defense, asking for $25 million isn’t actually that far fetched. He got $20 million plus 20% of the profits for Hancock and Bad Boy II and his “I, Robot” salary was $28 million.
Plus, would you watch an “Independence Day” sequel without him in it?