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My Movie Week... with Mike Shaw

Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day
Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day

There have been a number of Independence Day 2 stories over the past year, some claiming that Will Smith is definitely taking part; others claiming that Will Smith is definitely not taking part.

The truth, however, is somewhere between the two; which is why director Roland Emmerich has prepared two versions of the script for the alien invasion sequel – one featuring super-famous, ultra-expensive movie star Will Smith, and another that doesn’t.

I can only imagine how frustrating it is for Emmerich, not knowing how his next big project is going to play out. It might end up being the biggest film of his career, or it might be a disappointing money pit.

He may have one of the planet’s top movie stars at his disposal, or he may have to find and cast an alternative star. The budget expectations may be astronomical, or they may be perfectly reasonable.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to watch Will Smith punch an alien in the face one more time, but I do wish he’d make his mind up.

Not all plain sailing in Star Wars
Not all plain sailing in Star Wars

It all seemed to be going so well, but all is not rosy in the world of Star Wars.

Last November, when it was announced that Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Little Miss Sunshine) was writing, the world breathed a sigh of relief. No more terrible George Lucas dialogue; and no hackneyed JJ Abrams scriptwork.

Alas, Disney and Lucasfilm have revealed that Arndt has been let go from the project, and director Abrams will now be taking over as lead writer, alongside Lawrence Kasdan (Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi). Obviously, Kasdan’s involvement is a good thing, but Abrams has been off the boil for a long time.

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said: “I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and JJ working on the script...Michael Arndt has done a terrific job bringing us to this point and we have an amazing filmmaking and design team in place already prepping for production.”

It’s hard to tell what kind of impact this late change will have on the production, but getting rid of the lead writer after a year in isn’t a good sign. Especially when shooting is due to begin in early 2014.

This isn’t just going to be a slight tweak, either. Abrams and Kasdan are completely reworking Arndt’s script from square one – a totally new movie with different main characters.

It’s terrifying how projects like this are so poorly managed. Movies are supposed to start with a solid story, not a production deadline. This is how the prequel trilogy ended up being so shoddy.

There’s a video of George Lucas saying something like: “They’re already building the sets! I better get this script finished.”

Excitement levels for these new films have officially dropped by 10%.

Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice
Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice

Tim Burton is in discussions to direct a sequel to Beetlejuice. He’s talked about it for many years, but it sounds like it might finally be happening.

Seth Grahame-Smith (Dark Shadows, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) has written the script for Warner Bros, and now it’s been deemed suitable, Burton is being brought on board.

So, Burton doing the follow-up is great, but even better is Michael Keaton’s eagerness to return, saying: “I’d do that in a heartbeat…that’s the one thing I’d love to do again.”

With a script in place and a leading man keen to play along, Beetlejuice 2 might not be too far away.

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