EXCLUSIVE: Top brass at 20th Century Fox got some work done this week, giving a green light to the long-awaited Independence Day sequel. The film has been slotted for a May production start, and the studio now will move to close Roland Emmerich’s directing deal. Now, Fox staked a June 24, 2016, release date, so this isn’t a shock, but these dates get recalibrated all the time. From what I’m told, Will Smith regrettably isn’t reprising area51-independence-day-attack(though if he said yes, I’m sure Fox, Emmerich and Dean Devlin would write him in, in a heartbeat). Deadline revealed this back in February.

Casting will begin after they lock Emmerich, and I’m told by Fox insiders they will be making a single film. There had been speculation we might see two films shot back-to-back, but Fox only greenlighted one. Nicolas Wright and James A. Woods wrote the script. Carter Blanchard rewrote the first draft of the script that was done by Emmerich and Dean Devlin, and then James Vanderbilt. Emmerich is producing with Devlin and Harald Kloser. The green light means that Fox, Emmerich and Devlin can release the film for the 2016 July 4 weekend, marking the 20th anniversary of the 1996 original that grossed $811 million worldwide.