Independence Day 2: what we know so far

Welcome (back) to Earth. Almost 20 years after the original first appeared in cinemas, a sequel is in the pipeline - but is Will Smith on board?

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It’s official: Independence Day’s sequel has been approved by Twentieth Century Fox, with filming due to start in May. Aliens, beware.

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Released in 1996, Roland Emmerich’s disaster flick saw Earth visited by nasty extra-terrestrials who promptly blew up the White House. It was down to a pilot (Will Smith), a nerd (Jeff Goldblum) and a speechifying president (Bill Pullman) to fight back – via computer viruses and fistfights. Yep, it was pretty great.

Now we’re getting a sequel which will arrive 20 years after the original first appeared in cinemas – but what can we expect from our second close encounter?

The long wait makes scientific sense 

“The humans knew that one day the aliens would come back,” director Roland Emmerich told Inside Movies in 2013 when discussing the sequel. “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.”

That suggests humanity will be meeting the reinforcements of the original invasion decades later, although the script has been rewritten twice (by James Vanderbilt and Carter Blanchard) since Emmerich said this so the storyline might have changed.

Some of the cast are returning…

In an interview with Time a while back, Goldblum said producers Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin have reserved a place for him. “I had a meeting and have been talking over the last several months or year with Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin,” he explained. “They’ve been cooking up and say they have a part for me in what they hope will be a plan to make another one pretty soon.”

More recently, Goldblum was confirmed to be returning by director Roland Emmerich – Hooray!

Movies.com also reported last year that Bill Pullman (who played President Whitmore) would be coming back (though presumably in a slightly different role unless he’s had the longest tenure in history), and new additions will include a gay character.

But Will Smith is probably out

A number of reports (including those associated with the film’s greenlighting) suggest that Will Smith will not be returning as heroic Marine pilot Captain Steven Hiller – he of the cigars, smack-talk and alien-punching action.

Emmerich has said he’s “too expensive” but hinted that the star will cameo to “pass the torch” to his stepson, who appeared as a child in the first film and will be appearing in the sequel as played by Jessie Usher.

There are some new faces

As well as Usher, The Hunger Games’ Liam Hemsworth has been confirmed by Emmerich to star in the film in an unnamed role – a casting that has been rumoured for some time.

Roland Emmerich is back in the driving seat

So we can safely assume the dogs will be safe from any alien incursion. Also, Emmerich has been tweeting some details of the film, so it’s worth giving him a follow for updates.

It might be called Independence Forever

In 2013 interviews Emmerich suggested that the film would be called ID Forever. This should be taken with a pinch of salt because the understanding at the time was that the story would be split into two parts, which is apparently no longer the case as only one film has been greenlit by Twentieth Century Fox. But who knows – 2016 is a long time away.

The Earth has changed since the first film

“It’s a changed world. It’s like parallel history,” Emmerich told Inside Movies in 2013. “[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.” 

So this time round the humans might be a bit more prepared for their outer space visitors – but will it be a fairer fight?

And finally: there will probably be more big explosions

Emmerich hasn’t shied away from destruction in his films since Independence Day (including destroying most of the planet in apocalypse film 2012), and we’d be surprised if he can resist blowing up a few more iconic buildings in this sequel. 

Maybe stay away from famous landmarks in summer 2016…

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The Independence Day sequel will be released on the 24th of June 2016