Asked whether the two versions were written to accommodate a version of the story both with and without Will Smith's character, Emmerich confirmed that's the case, conceding that it's unusual but adding that the scripts are coming along well.
The filmmaker had previously ruled Will Smith out of the sequel, while saying that both Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum would return. When Smith expressed a desire to come back for the film, though (schedules permitting), suddenly it didn't seem so impossible.
“Will Smith can not come back because he’s too expensive, but he’d also be too much of a marquee name,” Emmerich had said at the time. “It would be too much. We have like maybe half of the people that you know would know from the first film and the other half people who are new.”
Scheduling with Smith and others may be a little easier now that the film has shrunk a bit in scale, though; previously thought to be an epic undertaking that would be broken up and released as ID Forever Part I and Part II, Emmerich told Indiewire that he no longer anticipates doing that and that it will likely be just one film.
"I thought about spending four years of my life on one movie and I didn't want to turn into something from the movie," Emmerich said. "It's a movie about aliens, I don't want to turn into an alien."
ID Forever is scheduled to hit theaters on July 3, 2015.