Being Canadian, we tend not to celebrate the 4th of July. This 4th, however, we happen to be in Vegas, which tends to celebrate everything. And it just so happens that tonight we’re at the Cosmopolitan hotel for their “dive-in” movie night, where you can watch movies on a giant screen from the comfort of their swimming pool (a necessity when the dry desert heat’s been sweltering around the 115-degree mark).
You probably know that there’s an Independence Day sequel in theatres right now, but tonight we’re kicking it old school and watching the original which came out – gulp – 20 years ago. 20 years! To put that in context, filming at LAX was delayed because of a threat from the Unabomber. The Unabomber! And re-shoots were done on the day the OJ Simpson verdict was announced. And it was referenced in Aileen Wuornos’s (Monster) last words, as she was executed. That’s a long time ago. So long that the movie held two weird records: first, a record for most special effects shots that has since been pulverized a billion times, and second, for most miniature models to appear in one film. That second one really dates it for you, because CGI was so expensive and so primitive that models were still the way to go. A tiny 1\12 White House was built (about 10 feet by 5 feet) just so they could blow it up. And now because of advances in technology, this record will probably stand forever.
The hype for this movie was huge. HUGE. So big it intimidated Steven Spielberg into cancelling his plans to make War of the Worlds (obviously it turned into a 9 year delay rather than an outright cancellation, but still). They spent $24 million dollars on advertising alone, but when it opened it smashed all the records (most of which were held by 1993’s Jurassic Park). It made Will Smith into a movie star, but he was not the first choice or even the 10th to play the role of Steven Hiller. Smith was a last minute replacement for when Kirk Cameron dropped out. You read that right: Kirk Cameron. Bruce Willis, David Duchovny, Pauley Shore, Mel Gibson, Eddie Murphy, Charlie Sheen, and Yakov Smirnoff all passed on the role. Yakov Smirnoff, guys. Will Smith was lower on the list than Yakov Smirnoff. Although, there’s clearly a screw loose in the casting department – Kevin Spacey was passed over in favour of Bill Pullman since Spacey lacked movie-star potential, they thought.
The new movie has a budget of $200 million, compared to the original’s being “just” $75M. Even with all that money, they still couldn’t afford to get Will Smith back (he demanded $50M) so the sequel will be Smithless. It’ll also be Mae Whitmanless. She played the president’s daughter in the first and her role has be recast. She’s been largely silent about being replaced but both fans and Mae’s friend Anna Kendrick have been outspoken about her perhaps not being “conventionally pretty” enough for the part. Perhaps she could call up Kevin Spacey for some consolation pie? Or better yet, Susan Sarandon, who was offered a substantial part but turned it down, having found the script to be “incomprehensible.”
Anyway. The Assholes are still in Vegas, and still watching movies, even on vacation. It’s a tough life, but someone’s gotta live it.
Follow us on Twitter (@assholemovies) to see what a dive-in movie on the Vegas strip looks like.