Everything else we loved growing up is getting a belated sequel, so why not Independence Day? Fifteen years after Roland Emmerich‘s alien-invasion movie became a smash hit, grossing $800 million worldwide, Fox is gearing up to produce two back-to-back sequels. Emmerich and his writing and producing partner Dean Devlin are said to be close to completing the scripts, which will tell one story in two parts.

Whether star Will Smith will be back is another question, but the studio is reportedly prepared to move on without him if necessary. More details after the jump.

Rumors of a follow-up to the super-successful Independence Day have been circulating for years now, but as recently as February Emmerich was telling press “Independence Day 2 is nowhere.” Now things are slowly coming together, with Emmerich and Devlin are expected to turn their scripts in to Fox by December at the latest.

Although the plot of the two films have not been revealed, we do know that they’ll function independently of one another, but also tell one combined tale — to steal Vulture‘s example, think Back to the Future Parts 2 and 3 instead of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2. The idea is to shoot them back to back, which may appeal to Smith as that arrangement would make it easier for him to spend more time with his family.

However, Smith’s involvement is a big if at this point. Fox and Smith began negotiating a deal back in 2009, but the studio balked when the star demanded a salary of $50 million to shoot both films and the two sides have yet to reach an agreement. Though Fox wants Smith back for obvious reasons, they are willing to make the film without him.

Smith’s acting career has been slowing down as of late, as he’s increasingly redirected his focus toward his family and his children’s careers. His last movie roles were in 2008′s Hancock and Seven Pounds, and he won’t appear in another film until next year’s Men in Black III. He’s attached to star in M. Night Shyamalan’s One Thousand A.E., but that project is said to be moving “extra-slow”; Smith shouldn’t have too much trouble squeezing in ID2 and ID3 if he decides he wants to do them.

If Smith passes on the project, Hollywood certainly isn’t lacking for established or rising talents who could do a fantastic job leading a sci-fi action movie. But would Independence Day really be the same without him? Moreover, Smith is still considered a huge box-office draw in a way that few stars are these days, despite his hiatus from acting. Would you watch an Independence Day movie without Will Smith?

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