Will Smith And The Tortured History Of The ‘Independence Day’ Sequel

Smith is out, but this is just the latest roadblock for the troubled production.

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before:
Will Smith will officially not be in the “Independence Day” sequel, which is tentatively titled “ID4-ever,” which will maybe come out in 2016 and possibly star some of the original cast, including an unconfirmed Michael B. Jordan.

Roland Emmerich’s follow-up to the blockbuster that put him, Will Smith and blowing up the White House on the map has been a long time coming, and it’s been a rocky road for the movie since its announcement way back in 2009.

Here’s a look at the sequel’s ups and downs as it has limped its way into production.

October 12, 2009: The Sequel Is Announced

Right on the heels of box office flop “10,000 BC” and just before the moderately successful “2012,” Emmerich drops the first word that he and screenwriter Dean Devlin are planning a sequel to “Independence Day.” According to Emmerich, having Will Smith on board is “essential for us, for this movie and actually for the audience too.”

So much for that.

November 12, 2009: “There’s No Script. There’s An Idea.”

Emmerich gives a few hints regarding “Independence Day 2,” the biggest of which is that it would actually be “Independence Day 2 and 3″ (because trilogies were so “in” in 2009). Says Emmerich, “We want to do a bigger arc … and just continue where [the first movie] ended.”

Also, the movies would be called “ID4-ever,” which would prove to be inspiration for James Franco’s famous line in “Spring Breakers.”

September 10, 2010: Bill Pullman Weighs In

It’s hard to imagine “ID4″ without Will Smith, but it’s just as hard to imagine it without Bill Pullman’s President Whitmore, whose badassery has become an Internet staple over the years. When hearing the news about the sequel, he said what we’re sure many fans were thinking: “Isn’t that beautiful?”

More plot details emerge from Emmerich, as, after picking up the story, “Naturally, the alien technology has changed everything.” Naturally. He also asks the cryptic question, “Who will be president?” clearly intimating that will.i.am might be up for a role.

November 10, 2010: “The Zone” Is Canceled

With the influx of found-footage movies, Emmerich decides to cancel his upcoming foray into the genre, “The Zone,” which would have married found footage with — yup, you guessed — an alien invasion. But really, what’s an alien-invasion movie without Jeff Goldblum stammering at the aliens?

April 3, 2012: What Is “White House Down”?

Remember when “White House Down” was more than just a silly “Die Hard” ripoff and was a secret project that might have been the “ID4″ sequel? We remember, and it was a fun time for all. Emmerich did end up blowing up the White House again, but with Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx in place of Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith — which, no offense, just doesn’t stack up.

September 12, 2012: 3D4-Ever

Because it isn’t enough to shoot back-to-back sequels to a nearly 20-year-old movie, Emmerich decides he will try his hand at 3-D, announcing that both sequels would add the extra dimension.

Screenwriter Dean Devlin reveals major information: “The thing that really hit me about the movie is how much love there is in it.” Because nothing says “love” like the deaths of millions of people.

July 21, 2013: The Sequel Is Officially A Go

The world didn’t end in 2012, and to celebrate, 20th Century Fox finally announces that the “Independence Day” sequel is definitely happening. The release date is July 3, 2015.

Didn’t I promise you fireworks?

September 26, 2013: Michael B. Jordan Will Take On Aliens

With Will Smith’s involvement in doubt, Michael B. Jordan, the young star du jour, apparently meets with producers about a role in the sequel. Jordan continues to be the king of being attached to, but not officially cast in, blockbusters (see: “Fantastic Four”).

October 24, 2013: Emmerich Has Script Written Without Will Smith

Emmerich reveals that he is prepared to move forward on the sequel without Will Smith, and has even written a script without his character, Captain Steven Hiller. (So much for who will be president, huh?) Still, Emmerich stays positive, saying that negotiations with Smith are “looking good.” What can possibly go wrong?

November 12, 2013: “ID4-Ever” Delayed To 2016

Just when everyone really thinks “ID4-Ever” is safe, Fox hits us with the news that it would be delayed until 2016. But it’s OK! Will Smith will just have to welcome the aliens to earth a year later, right?

February 7, 2014: Will Smith Will Not Be In Sequel

In a sad day for all of humanity, Will Smith tells Fox that he doesn’t want to kill aliens in sequels anymore (I guess “MIB3″ left a bad taste in his mouth) and will not be in the sequel to the movie that made him a megastar. This is according to Deadline, though they also write, “This is not set in stone,” making it clear that with “ID4-Ever,” the only constant is change.

Today: What Do We Know?

So, in the midst of rumors galore, what do we actually know about the movie(s)?

Well, Will Smith won’t be in it (probably). Michael B. Jordan will be in it (maybe). Many characters from the first appear in the script, though no actors are confirmed. After an official release date of July 3, 2015, it has been delayed to 2016 with no confirmed date. And it’s apparently still called “ID4-Ever,” which is the one thing we hope actually does change.

That’s all we’ve got, but don’t worry: You can just watch Bill Pullman’s speech on repeat until the movie comes out.

You know, in 2020.