Independence Day (1996 film)

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Independence Day
Independence day movieposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Produced by Dean Devlin
Written by
  • Dean Devlin
  • Roland Emmerich
Music by David Arnold
Cinematography Karl Walter Lindenlaub
Edited by David Brenner
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • June 25, 1996 (1996-06-25)(Mann Plaza Theater)
  • July 2, 1996 (1996-07-02)(United States)
Running time
145 minutes [1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$75 million [2] [3]
Box office$817.4 million [2]

Independence Day (also known as ID4) is a 1996 American science fiction action film directed and co-written by Roland Emmerich. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, Margaret Colin, Randy Quaid, Robert Loggia, James Rebhorn, Harvey Fierstein, Vivica A. Fox and Harry Connick Jr. The film focuses on disparate groups of people who converge in the Nevada desert in the aftermath of a worldwide attack by an extraterrestrial race of unknown origin. With the other people of the world, they launch an all-out counterattack on July 4th Independence Day in the United States.

Science fiction film Film genre

Science fiction film is a genre that uses speculative, fictional science-based depictions of phenomena that are not fully accepted by mainstream science, such as extraterrestrial lifeforms, alien worlds, extrasensory perception and time travel, along with futuristic elements such as spacecraft, robots, cyborgs, interstellar travel or other technologies. Science fiction films have often been used to focus on political or social issues, and to explore philosophical issues like the human condition. In many cases, tropes derived from written science fiction may be used by filmmakers ignorant of or at best indifferent to the standards of scientific plausibility and plot logic to which written science fiction is traditionally held.

Action film is a film genre in which the protagonist or protagonists are thrust into a series of events that typically include violence, extended fighting, physical feats, and frantic chases. Action films tend to feature a resourceful hero struggling against incredible odds, which include life-threatening situations, a villain, or a pursuit which usually concludes in victory for the hero. Advancements in CGI have made it cheaper and easier to create action sequences and other visual effects that required the efforts of professional stunt crews in the past. However, reactions to action films containing significant amounts of CGI have been mixed, as films that use computer animations to create unrealistic, highly unbelievable events are often met with criticism. While action has long been a recurring component in films, the "action film" genre began to develop in the 1970s along with the increase of stunts and special effects. Common action scenes in films are generally, but not limited to, explosions, car chases, fistfights, and shootouts.

Roland Emmerich German filmmaker

Roland Emmerich is a German film director, screenwriter, and producer, widely known for his disaster films. His films, most of which are English-language Hollywood productions, have made more than $3 billion worldwide, including just over $1 billion in the United States, making him the country's 11th-highest-grossing director of all time. He began his work in the film industry by directing the film The Noah's Ark Principle (1984) as part of his university thesis and also co-founded Centropolis Entertainment in 1985 with his sister. He is a collector of art and an active campaigner for the LGBT community, and is openly gay.


While promoting Stargate in Europe, Emmerich came up with the idea for the film when fielding a question about his own belief in the existence of alien life. He and Dean Devlin decided to incorporate a large-scale attack having noticed that aliens in most invasion films travel long distances in outer space only to remain hidden when reaching Earth. Shooting began in July 1995 in New York City, and the film was officially completed on June 20, 1996.

<i>Stargate</i> (film) 1994 American-French science fiction film directed by Roland Emmerich

Stargate is a 1994 American-French science fiction adventure film released through Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Carolco Pictures. Written by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, the film is the first release in the Stargate franchise. Directed by Emmerich, the film stars Kurt Russell, James Spader, Jaye Davidson, Alexis Cruz, Mili Avital, and Viveca Lindfors. The plot centers on the premise of a "Stargate", an ancient ring-shaped device that creates a wormhole enabling travel to a similar device elsewhere in the universe. The film's central plot explores the theory of extraterrestrial beings having an influence upon human civilization.

Dean Devlin American screenwriter, producer, television director and former actor

Dean Devlin is an American screenwriter, producer, television director and former actor. He is the founder of the production company Electric Entertainment.

Now considered a significant turning point in the history of the Hollywood blockbuster, Independence Day was at the forefront of the large-scale disaster film and sci-fi resurgence of the mid-late 1990s. The film was released worldwide on July 3, 1996, but began showing on July 2 (the same day the film's story begins) in limited release as a result of a high level of anticipation among moviegoers. The film received positive reviews and grossed over $817.4 million worldwide, [2] becoming the highest-grossing film of 1996 and the second-highest-grossing film ever at the time, behind Jurassic Park (1993). The film won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing. A sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence , was released 20 years later on June 24, 2016, making up the first part of a planned series of films.

Hollywood District in Los Angeles, California, United States

Hollywood is a neighborhood in the central region of Los Angeles, California, notable as the home of the U.S. film industry, including several of its historic studios. Its name has come to be a shorthand reference for the industry and the people associated with it.

A blockbuster is a work of entertainment—especially a feature film, but also other media—that is highly popular and financially successful. The term has also come to refer to any large-budget production intended for "blockbuster" status, aimed at mass markets with associated merchandising, sometimes on a scale that meant the financial fortunes of a film studio or a distributor could depend on it.

The year 1996 involved many significant films. The major releases this year included Scream, Independence Day, Fargo, Trainspotting, The Rock, The English Patient, Twister, Mars Attacks!, Jerry Maguire and a film version of the musical, Evita.


On July 2, 1996, an enormous mothership UFO that has one fourth the mass of the Moon, enters orbit around Earth, deploying assault fortress saucers, each fifteen miles wide, that take positions over some of Earth's major cities. David Levinson, an MIT-trained satellite technician, decodes a signal embedded within global satellite transmissions that he determines is the aliens' countdown timer for a coordinated attack. With help from his former wife, White House Communications Director Constance Spano, David, and his father Julius, gain access to the Oval Office and warn President Thomas J. Whitmore the aliens are hostile. Whitmore immediately orders large-scale evacuations of New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., but it is too late; the timer reaches zero and the saucers activate devastating directed-energy weapons, killing millions. Whitmore, the Levinsons, and a few others narrowly escape aboard Air Force One as the capital is destroyed, along with the other locations over which the saucers are positioned.

Unidentified flying object Unusual apparent anomaly in the sky that is not readily identifiable

Unidentified flying object (UFO) is the popular term for any aerial phenomenon that cannot immediately be identified. Most UFOs are identified on investigation as conventional objects or phenomena. The term is widely used for claimed observations of extraterrestrial spacecraft.

White House Communications Director U.S. presidential staff member in charge of the White Houses media campaign

The White House communications director or White House director of communications, also known officially as assistant to the president for communications, is part of the senior staff of the president of the United States, and is responsible for developing and promoting the agenda of the president and leading its media campaign. The director, along with his or her staff, works on speeches such as the inaugural address and the State of the Union Address. The communications director, who is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the president without the need for Senate confirmation, is usually given an office in the West Wing of the White House.

Oval Office office of the U.S. President

The Oval Office is, since 1909, the working office space of the president of the United States, located in the West Wing of the White House, Washington, D.C.

On July 3, international leaders begin ordering individual counterattacks. Their air forces attack the saucers positioned above the ruins of the cities, but the saucers are protected by force fields. Each saucer launches a swarm of attack fighters, each with its own shield as well, which wipes out the human fighter squadrons and military bases. Captain Steven Hiller, an F/A-18 jet pilot with the USMC squadron VMFA-314 based out of Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, survives by luring his attacker to the enclosed spaces of the Grand Canyon and sacrificing his plane, forcing the alien to crash-land. He subdues the injured alien pilot and flags down a convoy of refugees, hitching a ride with former combat pilot Russell Casse. They transport the unconscious alien to Area 51, where Whitmore's group has landed. Through Secretary of Defense Albert Nimzicki, they have learned that a faction of the government has been involved in a UFO conspiracy since 1947, when one of the invaders' attack fighters crashed in Roswell. Area 51 houses the now-refurbished alien fighter, and three alien corpses recovered from the crash. As eccentric scientist Dr. Brackish Okun examines the alien captured by Steven, it regains consciousness and attacks, telepathically invading Okun's mind. It uses Okun's vocal cords to communicate with President Whitmore, before launching a psychic attack against him. Whitmore sees visions of the aliens' plans: their entire civilization travels from planet to planet, exterminating all indigenous life and stripping the planet of all natural resources. After Secret Service agents and military personnel kill the alien that leaves Dr. Okun in a coma, Whitmore reluctantly authorizes a nuclear attack; a B-2 Spirit fires a nuclear warhead tipped cruise missile at a saucer positioned above Houston, but the saucer remains intact. Meanwhile, Steven's fiancée Jasmine and her son survive the destruction of Los Angeles, and use an abandoned service truck to rescue other survivors, in the process finding the injured First Lady, Marilyn, whose helicopter crashed during the initial attack. Though the group is rescued by Steven and taken to Area 51, Marilyn dies of her wounds shortly after being reunited with her family.

Military aviation use of aircraft by armed forces in combat or other military capacity

Military aviation is the use of military aircraft and other flying machines for the purposes of conducting or enabling aerial warfare, including national airlift capacity to provide logistical supply to forces stationed in a theater or along a front. Airpower includes the national means of conducting such warfare, including the intersection of transport and war craft. Military aircraft include bombers, fighters, transports, trainer aircraft, and reconnaissance aircraft.

In speculative fiction, a force field, sometimes known as an energy shield, force shield, force bubble, defence shield or deflector shield, is a barrier made of energy, plasma, or particles. It protects a person, area, or object from attacks or intrusions. This fictional technology is created as a field of energy without mass that acts as a wall, so that objects affected by the particular force relating to the field are unable to pass through the field and reach the other side. This concept has become a staple of many science-fiction works, so much that authors frequently do not even bother to explain or justify them to their readers, treating them almost as established fact and attributing whatever capabilities the plot requires.

United States Marine Corps Amphibious warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Marine Corps (USMC), also referred to as the United States Marines, is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for conducting expeditionary and amphibious operations with the United States Navy as well as the Army and Air Force. The U.S. Marine Corps is one of the four armed service branches in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States.

On July 4, David demonstrates the key to defeating the aliens is to deactivate their shields, and devises a plan to do this by uploading a computer virus into the mothership using the refurbished alien fighter, which Steven volunteers to pilot. The U.S. military contacts surviving airborne squadrons around the world through Morse code to organize a united counter-offense against the aliens. With military pilots in short supply, Whitmore enlists the help of volunteers with flight experience, including Russell, to fly the remaining F/A-18s at Area 51; and leads an attack on a saucer bearing down on the base. Flying into space, Steven and David upload the virus and successfully deploy a nuclear weapon on board the mothership, destroying the aliens' communications system and reinforcements once the malware has filtered into the alien ships over Earth. With the aliens' shields deactivated, the fighter jets are able to successfully fight back against the enemy craft, but their supply of missiles is exhausted before they can destroy the saucer. As it prepares to fire on the base, Russell has one last missile to spare, but when the firing control on the missile fails, he rams his jet into the directed-energy weapon port, causing a chain reaction that destroys the entire ship. Human resistance forces around the world are informed of the alien saucers' weak point, and successfully destroy the others. As humankind is rejoicing in victory, Steven and David return to Area 51 unharmed and reunite with their families. They then accompany Whitmore and his daughter in watching the wreckage from the mothership blowing up, resembling a fireworks display as it enters Earth's atmosphere.

Independence Day (United States) Federal holiday in the United States

Independence Day is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the Declaration of Independence of the United States, on July 4, 1776. The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies were no longer subject to the monarch of Britain and were now united, free, and independent states. The Congress had voted to declare independence two days earlier, on July 2, but it was not declared until July 4.

Computer virus computer program that can replicate itself and spread from one computer to another

A computer virus is a type of malware that, when executed, replicates itself by modifying other computer programs and inserting its own code. When this replication succeeds, the affected areas are then said to be "infected" with a computer virus.

Morse code Transmission of language with brief pulses

Morse code is a character encoding scheme used in telecommunication that encodes text characters as standardized sequences of two different signal durations called dots and dashes or dits and dahs. Morse code is named for Samuel F. B. Morse, an inventor of the telegraph.




F/A-18 Hornets of VMFA-314, "Black Knights" F-18s from VFMA-314 in formation.jpg
F/A-18 Hornets of VMFA-314, "Black Knights"

The idea for the film came when Emmerich and Devlin were in Europe promoting their film Stargate . A reporter asked Emmerich why he made a film with content like Stargate if he did not believe in aliens. Emmerich stated he was still fascinated by the idea of an alien arrival, and further explained his response by asking the reporter to imagine what it would be like to wake up one morning and to discover 15 mile-wide spaceships were hovering over the world's largest cities. Emmerich then turned to Devlin and said, "I think I have an idea for our next film." [7] [15] [16]

Emmerich and Devlin decided to expand on the idea by incorporating a large-scale attack, with Devlin saying he was bothered by the fact that "for the most part, in alien invasion movies, they come down to Earth and they're hidden in some back field …[o]r they arrive in little spores and inject themselves into the back of someone's head." [17] Emmerich agreed by asking Devlin if arriving from across the galaxy, "would you hide on a farm or would you make a big entrance?" [17] The two wrote the script during a month-long vacation in Mexico, [15] and just one day after they sent it out for consideration, 20th Century Fox chairman Peter Chernin greenlit the screenplay. [11] Pre-production began just three days later in February 1995. [7] [15] The U.S. military originally intended to provide personnel, vehicles, and costumes for the film; however, they backed out when the producers refused to remove the script's Area 51 references. [7]

A then-record 3,000-plus special effects shots would ultimately be required for the film. [16] The shoot utilized on-set, in-camera special effects more often than computer-generated effects in an effort to save money and get more authentic pyrotechnic results. [7] Many of these shots were accomplished at Hughes Aircraft in Culver City, California, where the film's art department, motion control photography teams, pyrotechnics team, and model shop were headquartered[ dubious ]. The production's model-making department built more than twice as many miniatures for the production than had ever been built for any film before by creating miniatures for buildings, city streets, aircraft, landmarks, and monuments. [18] The crew also built miniatures for several of the spaceships featured in the film, including a 30-foot (9.1 m) destroyer model [19] and a version of the mother ship spanning 12 feet (3.7 m). [20] City streets were recreated, then tilted upright beneath a high-speed camera mounted on a scaffolding filming downwards. An explosion would be ignited below the model, and flames would rise towards the camera, engulfing the tilted model and creating the rolling "wall of destruction" look seen in the film. [21] A model of the White House was also created, covering 10 feet (3.0 m) by 5 feet (1.5 m), and was used in forced-perspective shots before being destroyed in a similar fashion for its destruction scene. [22] The detonation took a week to plan [11] and required 40 explosive charges. [22]

A World War II training aircraft with a camera mounted on its front navigated through the walls of the Little Colorado River canyon, and the footage was used as pilot point-of-view shots. USA little colorado pano AZ.jpg
A World War II training aircraft with a camera mounted on its front navigated through the walls of the Little Colorado River canyon, and the footage was used as pilot point-of-view shots.

The film's aliens were designed by production designer Patrick Tatopoulos. The actual aliens in the film are diminutive and based on a design Tatopoulos drew when tasked by Emmerich to create an alien that was "both familiar and completely original". [24] These creatures wear "bio-mechanical" suits that are based on another design Tatopoulos pitched to Emmerich. These suits were 8 feet (2.4 m) tall, equipped with 25 tentacles, and purposely designed to show it could not sustain a person inside so it would not appear to be a "man in a suit". [25]


Principal photography began in July 1995 in New York City. A second unit gathered plate shots and establishing shots of Manhattan, Washington, D.C., an RV community in Flagstaff, Arizona, and the Very Large Array on the Plains of San Agustin, New Mexico. [25] The main crew also filmed in nearby Cliffside Park, New Jersey before moving to the former Kaiser Steel mill in Fontana, California to film the post-attack Los Angeles sequences. [26] The production then moved to Wendover, Utah, and West Wendover, Nevada, [27] where the deserts doubled for Imperial Valley, and the Wendover Airport doubled for the El Toro and Area 51 exteriors. [28] It was here where Pullman filmed his pre-battle speech. Immediately before filming the scene, Devlin and Pullman decided to add "Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!" to the end of the speech. At the time, the production was nicknamed "ID4" because Warner Bros. owned the rights to the title Independence Day (1983) and Devlin had hoped that if Fox executives noticed the addition in dailies, the impact of the new dialogue would help them to win the rights to the title. [7] The right to use the title was eventually won two weeks later. [11]

The production team moved to the Bonneville Salt Flats to film three scenes, then returned to California to film in various places around Los Angeles, including Hughes Aircraft where sets for the cable company and Area 51 interiors were constructed at a former aircraft plant. Sets for the latter included corridors containing windows that were covered with blue material. The filmmakers originally intended to use the chroma key technique to make it appear as if activity was happening on the other side of the glass; but the composited images were not added to the final print because production designers decided the blue panels gave the sets a "clinical look". [29] The attacker hangar set contained an attacker mockup 65 feet (20 m) wide [18] that took four months to build. [11] The White House interior sets used had already been built for The American President and had previously been used for Nixon . [22] Principal photography completed on November 3, 1995. [11]

The film originally depicted Russell Casse being rejected as a volunteer for the July 4 aerial counteroffensive because of his alcoholism. He then uses a stolen missile tied to his red biplane to carry out his suicide mission. According to Dean Devlin, test audiences responded well to the scene's irony and comedic value. [7] However, the scene was re-shot to include Russell's acceptance as a volunteer, his crash course on flying modern fighter aircraft, and him flying an F/A-18 instead of the biplane. Devlin preferred the alteration because the viewer now witnesses Russell ultimately making the decision to sacrifice his life, [7] and seeing the biplane keeping pace and flying amongst F/A-18s was "just not believable". [30] The film was officially completed on June 20, 1996. [11]


The Grammy Award-winning [31] score for the film was composed by David Arnold and recorded with an orchestra of 90, a choir of 46, "and every last ounce of stereotypical Americana he could muster for the occasion". [32] The film's producer Dean Devlin commented that "you can leave it up to a Brit to write some of the most rousing and patriotic music in the history of American cinema." [32] The soundtrack has received two official CD releases. RCA released a 50-minute album at the time of the film's release, then in 2010, La-La Land Records released a limited-edition, two-disc CD set that comprised the complete score plus 12 alternate cues. [33] The premiere of Independence Day live [34] took place at the Royal Albert Hall in September 2016, with the film's score was performed live to a screening of the film. [35] This celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the film's release, and the event also featured a pre-film talk by David Arnold.



Time capsule in Rachel, Nevada. ID4timecapsule.jpg
Time capsule in Rachel, Nevada.

While the film was still in post-production, Fox began a massive marketing campaign to help promote the film, beginning with the airing of a dramatic commercial during Super Bowl XXX, for which it paid $1.3 million. [36] The film's subsequent success at the box office resulted in the trend of using Super Bowl air time to kick off the advertising campaign for potential blockbusters. [37] [38]

Fox's Licensing and Merchandising division also entered into co-promotional deals with Apple Inc. The co-marketing project was dubbed "The Power to Save the World" campaign, in which the company used footage of David using his PowerBook laptop in their print and television advertisements. [39] Trendmasters entered a merchandising deal with the film's producers to create a line of tie-in toys. [40] In exchange for product placement, Fox also entered into co-promotional deals with Molson Coors Brewing Company and Coca-Cola. [41]

The film was marketed with several taglines, including: "We've always believed we weren't alone. On July 4, we'll wish we were", "Earth. Take a good look. It could be your last", and "Don't make plans for August". The weekend before the film's release, the Fox Network aired a half-hour special on the film, the first third of which was a spoof news report on the events that happen in the film. Roger Ebert attributed most of the film's early success to its teaser trailers and marketing campaigns, acknowledging them as "truly brilliant". [42]

The shot of the White House's destruction was the focus of the film's marketing campaign. A fleeing helicopter was added to the shot in the final print. Id4whitehouse.jpg
The shot of the White House's destruction was the focus of the film's marketing campaign. A fleeing helicopter was added to the shot in the final print.

The film had its official premiere held at Los Angeles' now-defunct Mann Plaza Theater on June 25, 1996. [43] It was then screened privately at the White House for President Bill Clinton and his family [44] before receiving a nationwide release in the United States on July 2, 1996, a day earlier than its previously scheduled opening. [45] The theatrical release of this film introduced a new THX trailer featuring Tex.

Home media

After a six-week, $30 million marketing campaign, Independence Day was released on VHS on November 22, 1996. [46] A LaserDisc release came out at roughly the same time, and included audio commentary, theatrical trailers, deleted scenes, and a bundled soundtrack CD,. [47] The film sold 22 million copies in North America becoming the best selling live-action video. [48]

It became available on DVD on June 27, 2000, and has since been re-released, in several different versions of this format, with varying supplemental material, including one instance where it was packaged with a lenticular cover. [49] Often accessible on these versions is a special edition of the film, which features nine minutes of additional footage not seen in the original theatrical release. [50] Independence Day became available on Blu-ray in the United Kingdom on December 24, 2007, [51] and in North America on March 11, 2008 [52] and in Australia on March 5, 2008. [53] The initial single-disc releases only feature the theatrical cut and a few extras, as per the single-disc DVDs. For its 2016 twentieth anniversary, the film was re-released on two-disc Blu-ray and DVD, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, and Digital HD. [54] [55] The 20th-anniversary editions feature both the theatrical and extended versions, all the extras of the previous 2-disc DVDs and more besides. [56]


In Lebanon, certain Jewish- and Israel-related content in the film was censored. One cut scene involved Judd Hirsch's character donning a kippah, and leading soldiers and White House officials in a Jewish prayer. Other removed footage showed Israeli and Arab troops working together in preparation for countering the alien invasion. The Lebanese Shi'a Islamist militant group Hezbollah called for Muslims to boycott the film, describing it as "propaganda for the so-called genius of the Jews and their concern for humanity." In response, Jewish actor Jeff Goldblum said: "I think Hezbollah has missed the point. The film is not about American Jews saving the world; it's about teamwork among people of different religions and nationalities to defeat a common enemy." [57] [58]

Twentieth anniversary release

The film had both its twentieth anniversary and premiere at a special live-orchestral screening performance at the Royal Albert Hall on September 22, 2016. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the original orchestrator Nicholas Dodd, performed the score live [59] during the film, and the film's composer, David Arnold, was a presenter at the event.


Box office

One of the film's creatures on the cover of the July 8, 1996 issue of Time. ID4TIME.jpg
One of the film's creatures on the cover of the July 8, 1996 issue of Time .

Independence Day was the highest-grossing film of 1996, beating Twister , Mission Impossible and The Hunchback of Notre Dame . [2] In the United States, it earned $104.3 million in its opening week, [60] including $96.1 million during its five-day holiday opening, and $50.2 million during its opening weekend. [61] All three figures broke records set by Jurassic Park three years earlier. [60] That film's sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park , claimed all three records when it was released the following year. Independence Day stayed in the number-one spot for three consecutive weeks, and grossed $306,169,268 in North America [2] and $511,231,623 in other territories during its theatrical run. [2] The combined worldwide total of $817,400,891 came second only to the worldwide earnings of Jurassic Park as the highest of all time. [62] Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 69.26 million tickets in the US. [63] The film currently is the 72nd-highest-worldwide-grossing film of all time. Hoping to capitalize on the film's success, several studios released large-scale disaster films, [64] and the already rising interest in science fiction-related media was further increased by the film's popularity. [44]

A month after the film's release, jewelry designers and marketing consultants reported an increased interest in dolphin-themed jewelry, as the character Jasmine (Vivica A. Fox) wears dolphin earrings, and is presented with a wedding ring featuring a gold dolphin. [65]

Critical response

Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 65% of 70 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 6.41/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The plot is thin and so is character development, but as a thrilling, spectacle-filled summer movie, Independence Day delivers." [66] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 59 out of 100 based on 19 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". [67] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale. [68]

Critics wrote that the film has "cardboard" and "stereotypical" characters, [5] [45] [69] [70] [71] and weak dialogue. [64] [71] [72] [73] Yet the shot of the White House's destruction has been declared a milestone in visual effects, and one of the most memorable scenes of the 1990s. [74] [75] In a 2010 poll, readers of Entertainment Weekly rated it the second-greatest summer film of the previous 20 years, ranking only behind Jurassic Park . [76]

Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film his highest rating, declaring it the "apotheosis" of Star Wars . [45] Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave it a B+ for living up to its massive hype, adding "charm is the foremost of this epic's contemporary characteristics. The script is witty, knowing, cool." [70] Eight years later, Entertainment Weekly would rate the film as one of the best disaster films of all time. [64] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times felt that the film did an "excellent job conveying the boggling immensity of [the] extraterrestrial vehicles […] and panic in the streets" and the scenes of the alien attack were "disturbing, unsettling and completely convincing". [5]

However, the film's nationalistic overtones were widely criticized by reviewers outside the U.S. Movie Review UK described the film as "a mish-mash of elements from a wide variety of alien invasion movies and gung-ho American jingoism." [77] The speech during which Whitmore states that victory in the coming war would see the entire world henceforth describe July 4 as its Independence Day, was described in a BBC review as "the most jaw-droppingly pompous soliloquy ever delivered in a mainstream Hollywood movie." [78] In 2003, readers of Empire , voted the scene that contained this speech as the "Cheesiest Movie Moment of All-Time". [79] Conversely, Empire critic Kim Newman gave the film a five-star rating in the magazine's original review of the film. [67]

Several critics expressed disappointment with the quality of the film's special effects. Newsweek 's David Ansen claimed the special effects were of no better caliber than those seen nineteen years earlier in Star Wars . [71] Todd McCarthy of Variety felt the production's budget-conscious approach resulted in "cheesy" shots that lacked in quality relative to the effects present in films directed by James Cameron and Steven Spielberg. [43] In his review, Roger Ebert took note of a lack of imagination in the spaceship and creature designs. [80] Gene Siskel expressed the same sentiments in his At the Movies review of the film. [42] [ dead link ]

American Film Institute lists


CAS Awards [83] Best Sound Chris Carpenter, Bob Beemer, Bill W. Benton and Jeff Wexler Nominated
Academy Awards [83] Nominated
Best Visual Effects Volker Engel, Douglas Smith, Clay Pinney and Joe Viskocil Won
Czech Lion Awards [84] [85] The most successful movie in Cinemas. Roland Emmerich Won
Saturn Awards [83] Best Special Effects N/AWon
Best Science Fiction Film N/AWon
Best Director Roland Emmerich Won
Best Writer Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin Nominated
Best Costumes Joseph A. PorroNominated
Best Supporting Actor Brent Spiner Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Vivica A. Fox Nominated
Best Young Actor James Duval Nominated
Best Music David Arnold Nominated
Best Actor Jeff Goldblum Nominated
Will Smith Nominated
Kids' Choice Awards [83] Favorite Movie ActorNominated
Favorite Movie N/AWon
Hugo Awards [83] Best Dramatic Presentation N/ANominated
Young Artist Awards [83] Best Young Actor – Age 10 or Under Ross Bagley Nominated
People's Choice Awards [83] Favorite Dramatic Motion PictureN/AWon
MTV Movie Awards [83] Best Action Sequence Aliens blow up citiesNominated
Best Movie N/ANominated
Best Male Performance Will SmithNominated
Best Breakthrough PerformanceVivica A. FoxNominated
Best Kiss Will Smith and Vivica A. FoxWon
Grammy Awards [83] Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television David ArnoldWon
Satellite Awards [83] Outstanding Visual Effects Volker Engel, Douglas Smith, Clay Pinney and Joe ViskocilWon
Outstanding Film Editing David Brenner Won
Mainichi Film Awards [83] Best Foreign Language FilmN/AWon
Japanese Academy Awards [83] N/ANominated
Amanda Awards [83] N/ANominated
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards [83] Favorite Actor – Sci-FiWill SmithWon
Universe Reader's Choice Awards [83] Best ActorWon
Best Supporting ActressVivica A. FoxWon
Best Science Fiction FilmN/AWon
Best Special EffectsVolker Engel, Douglas Smith, Clay Pinney and Joe ViskocilWon
Best DirectorRoland EmmerichWon
Best ScoreDavid ArnoldWon
Best Cinematography Karl Walter Lindenlaub Won
Best WritingRoland Emmerich and Dean DevlinWon
Golden Raspberry Awards [83] Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 MillionNominated
Online Film & Television Association Awards [86] Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Horror PictureDean DevlinNominated
Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Horror ActorWill SmithNominated
Best Film EditingDavid BrennerNominated
Best SoundChris Carpenter
Bill W. Benton
Bob Beemer
Jeff Wexler
Best Sound EffectsSandy Gendler & Val KuklowskyNominated
Best Visual EffectsVolker Engel
Douglas Smith
Clay Pinney
Joe Viskocil


Disaster elements portrayed in Independence Day represented a significant turning point for Hollywood blockbuster films. With advancements in CGI special effects, events depicting mass destruction became commonplace in films that soon followed, such as Armageddon (1998) and Deep Impact (1998). The trend continued throughout the 2000s and 2010s, evident in films like The Day After Tomorrow (2004) and The Avengers (2012). [87]

In other media


Author Stephen Molstad wrote a tie-in novel to help promote the film shortly before its release. The novel goes into further detail on the characters, situations, and overall concepts not explored in the film. The novel presents the film's finale as originally scripted, with the character played by Randy Quaid stealing a missile and roping it to his cropduster biplane.

Following the film's success, a prequel novel entitled Independence Day: Silent Zone was written by Molstad in February 1998. [88] The novel is set in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and details the early career of Dr. Brackish Okun. [89]

Molstad wrote a third novel, Independence Day: War in the Desert in July 1999. Set in Saudi Arabia on July 3, it centers around Captain Cummins and Colonel Thompson, the two Royal Air Force officers seen receiving the Morse code message in the film.

A Marvel comic book was also written based on the first two novelizations.


On August 4, 1996, BBC Radio 1 broadcast the one-hour play Independence Day UK , written, produced, and directed by Dirk Maggs, a spin-off depicting the alien invasion from a British perspective. [90] None of the original cast was present. Dean Devlin gave Maggs permission to produce an original version, on the condition that he did not reveal certain details of the movie's plot, and that the British were not depicted as saving the day. [90] Independence Day UK was set up to be similar to the 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worldsthe first 20 minutes were live. [90]


In 1996 a "behind-the-scenes" multimedia CD-ROM titled Inside Independence Day was released for Microsoft Windows and Macintosh; it includes storyboards for the film, sketches, movie clips, and a preview of the Independence Day video game. [91]

Video games

An Independence Day video game was released in February 1997 for the PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and PC, each version receiving mostly tepid reviews. [92] The multi-view shooter game contains various missions to perform, with the ultimate goal of destroying the aliens' primary weapon. A wireless mobile version was released in 2005. A computer game entitled ID4 Online was released in 2000.[ citation needed ]


Trendmasters released a toy line for the film in 1996. [93] Each action figure, vehicle or playset came with a 31/2" floppy disk that contained an interactive computer game. [94]


In June 2011, Devlin confirmed that he and Emmerich had written a treatment for two sequels to form a trilogy; both expressed the desire for Will Smith to return. [95] In October 2011, however, discussions over Smith returning were halted, due to Fox's refusal to provide the $50 million salary demanded by Smith for the two sequels. Emmerich, however, made assurances that the films would be shot back-to-back, regardless of Smith's involvement. [96]

In March 2013, Emmerich stated that the titles of the new films would be ID: Forever – Part I and ID: Forever – Part II. [97] In November 2014, the sequel was given the green light by 20th Century Fox, with a release date of June 24, 2016. This would be a stand-alone sequel, that would not split into two parts as originally planned, with filming beginning in May 2015 and casting being done after the studio locked down Emmerich as the director of the film. [98] In December 2014, Devlin confirmed that Emmerich would indeed be directing the sequel. [99] On June 22, 2015, Emmerich announced the official title, Independence Day: Resurgence . [100]

With respect to Smith's decision not to return to film a sequel, Emmerich told Screen Crush that: "In the very beginning, I wanted to work with him and he was excited to be in it but then after a while he was tired of sequels, and he did another science fiction film, which was his father-son story After Earth , so he opted out." [101]

Independence Day: Resurgence was released on June 24, 2016. [102]

See also

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Awards and achievements
Preceded by
12 Monkeys
Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film
Succeeded by
Men in Black