It’s been 17 years since Roland Emmerich’s Will Smith-starring money-maker blew up the box-office (and the White House) and now, alongside of the release of the first trailer for the director’s White House Down, Emmerich is promising a return to the Independence Day franchise with ID Forever Part I and Part II. It’s a tough day to live on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Emmerich and his ID co-writer Dean Devlin have brought White House Down screenwriter James Vanderbilt in to rewrite their ID Forever scripts which place the sequels 20 years after the first film. The time line matches up with the actual amount of time that’s gone by since the first ID film, and it works with the sequel’s plot, too. Emmerich explains: “The humans knew that one day the aliens would come back. And they know that the only way you can really travel in space is through wormholes. So for the aliens, it could take two or three weeks, but for us that’s 20 or 25 years”
As a species, the humans in the ID Forever movies will have evolved over the past two decades and they’re better prepared for the next invasion. “It’s a changed world,” says Emmerich. “It’s like parallel history. [Humans] have harnessed all this alien technology. We don’t know how to duplicate it because it’s organically-grown technology, but we know how to take an antigravity device and put it in a human airplane. But,” he adds, “[the aliens] also do different things.” Uh-oh.
Will Smith has yet to sign on for the sequels (his rumoured $50 million paycheque seems to be the sticking point for the studio) but Emmerich appears to have a strategy to deal with the uncertainty surrounding his character. “It’s still some of the same characters, but also new younger characters; it’s a little bit like the sons take over,” he said, indicating that he has the option of shrinking or eliminating the actor’s part altogether if need be.
However, earlier this year, Bill Pullman confirmed that he’d definitely be back. “I’m not in an old age home in a wheelchair being wheeled out for one more moment,” said Pullman, about why he likes the ID Forever scripts. “It’s a very interesting conception of what happens to Whitmore between then and when it picks back up.”
For his part, Emmerich promises that the human race will triumph in the end (even if they don’t manage to save the White House): “The first [movie] ends on a little success, but only enough to give the humans hope. And then in the second one they free themselves again.”