After 20 years, this weekend finally marks the second chapter in the saga of 20th Century Fox and Roland Emmerich's Independence Day franchise. While critical reviews of belated sequel Independence Day: Resurgence have been trending downward, early audience reaction hasn't been nearly as negative, representing another fairly sharp divide when it comes to critics' opinions of a 2016 blockbuster and those of the masses.
Despite the absence of former star Will Smith, it would appear that the ID4 universe still has legs, so it's no surprise that Emmerich is already talking publicly about the prospect of a third entry in the series.
During a recent interview with Empire, Emmerich was asked about his potential plans for an ID4 part three, and offered the following comments:
"The next one will be an intergalactic journey. It'll be [set] maybe a year or two later, not 20 years [on]. I want to maintain this group of people, especially the young characters, and Jeff [Goldblum] and Brent [Spiner] will take part in it. It'll be fun to keep that group together. Will I definitely direct it? Oh yes. I'd never, ever let someone else do it."
Without spoiling the overall plot of Resurgence - although Emmerich's comments about which cast members he would like to see return already kind of does that to a certain extent - the film contains a sub-plot which suggests the possible future involvement of humanity in a galactic battle taking place far outside the Milky Way. However, Emmerich adds that even if ID4's heroes head out to new frontiers, the story still needs to present major stakes for Earth in order to work: "I think it'll be the classic of going into space but it has to be about Earth, and we have a really good idea for that." What exactly that particular idea is remains a mystery at present.
With Independence Day: Resurgence tracking at a likely domestic opening of between $40 to $60 million - a mere fraction of its gargantuan $165 million estimated production budget - one might be tempted to wonder why Emmerich is quite so confident that a third film will get made. After all, the average Hollywood production needs to at least double its budget to turn a profit. Well, that's where international grosses will likely swoop in to save the day, drunken Randy Quaid-style.
Effects-heavy popcorn action films tend to pull in big numbers worldwide, as the language of breathtaking explosions and firefights is one that translates in any country. Based on the performance of similar films released in 2016 so far, it's hard to imagine that Emmerich's sequel won't bring in quite the lucrative haul once all is said and done, thus likely facilitating Independence Day 3. But, considering audience reactions to Resurgence, it may make sense. After all, sometimes all that a movie needs is to provide a fun time for viewers in order to satisfy.
Independence Day: Resurgence is in theaters now.