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Will Smith won't do 'Independence Day' sequel

Will Smith in 'Independence Day.'
Will Smith in 'Independence Day.'Courtesy 20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox is keen to do a sequel to 1996’s hit “Independence Day,” but they’re going to have to do it without Will Smith. Deadline reports that Smith won’t reprise the wisecracking Marine fighter pilot role that made him a viable movie star in the first place.

The turndown is a little surprising. Smith has done franchise sequels after bombs before, although his track record strongly suggests he doesn’t need to. “Men in Black 3” was far better than the naysayers predicted and was actually one of Smith’s highest grossers, although “After Earth” flopped critically and commercially.

If the project stays on track, the “Independence Day” sequel will hit multiplexes exactly 20 years after the original. That’s a long time to crank out a follow-up. There’s no guarantee that audiences actually want to see the movie, tentatively titled “ID Forever Part 1,” at this point. The prime demographic audience that turned out in droves to see the original are middle-aged at this point. There’s also the problem that “Independence Day” was a situation movie, as opposed to a character movie. It’s relatively to sequel cops, spies and superheroes, who can always have another case to crack. How many times can Earth get invaded by the same aliens?

Roland Emmerich, who directed the original, is on board, as is his writing/producing partner, Dean Devlin. No casting has been announced, although a July 1, 2016 release date has.