Welcome Back to Earth: Devlin and Emmerich Developing 'Independence Day' Sequel

Tuesday, 10 July 2012 08:46 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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Welcome Back to Earth: Devlin and Emmerich Developing 'Independence Day' Sequel

Sixteen summers ago, Will Smith knocked an armored alien unconscious with a single American punch, Jeff Goldblum repelled an extraterrestrial invasion using a Mac laptop, and Bill Pullman showed that even a president can kick ass in a fighter jet.  The world responded by standing up as one and declaring, "Fuck yes, Independence Day!"  Though humanity has clamored for a theatrical follow-up in the years since the halcyon days of Clinton and AOL, an Independence Day sequel has yet to bring forth more cultural imperialism, rah-rah summer blockbusting, and fighter jet-politics.

Now that we've all shaken off the ID4 hangovers that inevitably accompany cable-repeats around the 4th of July, though, we're ready for the news that an Independence Day sequel may indeed be possible.  So sayeth Dean Devlin.  The producer and co-writer has said that he and Roland Emmerich, who directed and co-wrote the first film, are actively developing a sequel, and are creatively energized by it in a way that hasn't been true in the past.

20th Century Fox has been trying to return to the alien shenanigans with a sequel to Independence Day since the movie grossed over $800 million in the summer of 1996, but no attempt has gained the necessary momentum to actually become a movie.  Last October, a rumor suggested that Fox was interested in shooting back-to-back sequels that would bring back Will Smith as hotshot pilot and aspiring astronaut Steven Hiller.  That rumor was accompanied by word that Devlin and Emmerich were finishing up work on screenplay.

In an interview with THR's Heat Vision, Devlin himself says that he and and his Godzilla, who haven't collaborated since Devlin wrote The Patriot, are indeed at work on ID4 2, but it seems that last October's rumor may have exaggerated their progress a bit.  The writer enthused,

"I can tell you that Roland and I have been working together for the first time in 11 years and we’re every excited about the idea of doing it. Whether or not we can make this happen, if we can get all the pieces to come together, that’s gonna be challenging. But creatively, for the very first time since we did the original, I feel we have a worthy concept, a worthy path to go."

The stumbles in bringing a sequel to fruition seemed logistical, such as busy actors and what one assumes would be a massive budget.  According to Devlin, though, the biggest impediment for he and Emmerich was creative, as they never quite nailed a concept that did the original justice.  That's not the case any longer, as Devlin explained,

"We resisted doing the sequel for years because we still wanted to honor the first one. The first one gave us all careers, and we really love that movie and loved the experience.  We didn’t want to make a movie because it was financially a good idea, we only wanted to do it when we had an idea and a concept that creatively felt like it honored the first one -- that it felt like an organic sequel as opposed to ‘let’s just go make some more money.'"

On the same track, he added, "I feel like we got it. I think it took a long time, but I feel like we finally got something that really feels like, 'that’s worth seeing as a sequel to Independence Day.' "

But will a sequel see the return of Independence Day's large ensemble cast, from Smith, Goldblum, and Pullman through supporting players such as Vivica A. Fox, Robert Loggia, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, and that dog who can outrun city-destroying explosions?  Devlin was vague but cautiously optimistic, saying, "We’re beginning a long process of talking to everybody. We’ll just have to see what happens."

After first collaborating on Universal Soldier in 1992, Devlin and Emmerich then went on to Stargate.  Devlin has mentioned in the past that they intended to create sequels to that film, which featured Kurt Russell pummeling aliens, but the subsequent television series based on the film prevented that.  The writer and producer once again voiced their mutual desire to revist the material, mentioning, "Stargate has always had this empty hole.  When we made the first one, we always intended on doing part two and three, and we were prevented for years. And our hope is that we can get another chance at Stargate and tell the entire story we wanted to tell."

Devlin is currently busy as the executive producer and occasional director on the TNT series Leverage, while Emmerich is preparing to shoot the Die Hard-in-the-White-House actioner White House Down with Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, so if the universe sees fit to bless humanity with another Independence Day, it's still a ways out.

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