Just when we were still trying to cope with the announcement of a pointless sequel to the 1996 blockbuster, Independence Day, news broke today that its leading man, Will Smith, will not be returning for the new film (scheduled to release in theaters July 3rd, 2015) reportedly because he’s too expensive. *cue sad music*
If you were skeptical about the sequel before today’s news, you’re probably trying to start a petition to stop it from happening now. The film is doomed at this point, and here are five reasons why:
- Will Smith shows you the money: With the exception of his most current film, After Earth, Smith rarely disappoints at the box office, especially when it comes to big budget action/sci-fi films. In fact, it was partly because of him that Independence Day made over $300 million at the box office (and that was back in 1996, consider the inflation). Without Smith, you can bet that the stock for Independence Day 2 will plummet. Hard.
- There is no other well-known Black actor out there right now with the star quality Will Smith has: You can do an open casting call for unknowns, consider lesser known up-and-coming actors, but you won’t find another Black actor who embodies his brand of charisma and cross-over appeal that attracts a universal audience. And if the powers that be cast a White actor in the role, God be with the filmmakers who will then have to endure a Twitter bloodbath from those who will start the #freeWillSmith trending topic.
- The film will suffer without its marquee name: With Smith out, who does that leave from the original movie? Director Roland Emmerich recently confirmed that the sequel has “maybe half of the people that you would know from the first film (in the script) and the other half people who are new.” So we may be left with, presumably, Vivica A. Fox, Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch, Bill Pullman and Randy Quaid (if he can take time away from his increasingly bizarre personal life)? None of these actors could make up for the colossal loss of a star like Will Smith.
- Will Smith was one of the main reasons why people paid to see aliens invade Earth (again): Face it; Independence Day didn’t exactly have an original premise. But Smith’s obvious enthusiasm for the project, coupled with its epic big screen movie-watching experience, made the film surprisingly enjoyable and endlessly rewatchable. That said, you can’t just put any placeholder actor in the role and expect the same audience reception. That’s just unrealistic, and it could turn into a gargantuan bomb at the box office.
- Because Will Smith is the Fourth of July King: Every filmmaker should know by now that if they’re coming out with a movie around one of the biggest U.S. holidays of the year, Smith should be the first one to receive a call. Aside from the first Independence Day, Smith’s star power also helped bring mass audiences to the following July releases: Men in Black, Men in Black II, Hancock and I, Robot. The evidence is clear; Smith is that dude.