Why Roland Emmerich Locked Two Writers In His Apartment To Rewrite Independence Day: Resurgence

There's nothing in the world more American than baseball, apple pie, and Bill Pullman's speech in "Independence Day." When the film debuted in theaters all the way back in 1996, it became a pinnacle of the 1990s blockbuster film and helped skyrocket Will Smith into Hollywood stardom. It's a movie about the impending end of the world, with aliens ready to zap destructive beams directly into the White House, the Washington Monument, the Statue of Liberty, the Twin Towers and other landmarks frequently slapped on tourism postcards. The aliens are powerful, all of humanity is in danger, and it's up to the neurotic David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), the president of the United States (Bill Pullman), and Air Force Captain Steve Hiller (Will Smith) to find a way to defeat the aliens and save the world.

Two decades later, director Roland Emmerich returned with "Independence Day: Resurgence," which follows many of the characters of the first film, and thrusts them into an absolutely bananas sequel containing the type of utter madness only capable from Roland "I Just Released A Movie About The Moon Falling From Orbit" Emmerich. Notably absent from the sequel was Will Smith, who according to Emmerich, dropped out of the movie mid-preparation. "That was a huge, huge blow to me," Emmerich said. The drop out didn't happen during negotiations or while the script was in process, but after production had already spent $10 or 12 million. Fortunately, Emmerich had a plan.

Independence Day: Resurgence Was Written in Emmerich's Apartment

The loss of one of the film's biggest stars meant a complete overhaul of the script was necessary, so Emmerich grabbed two writers and the trio rewrote the entire film. "I got two young writers and we locked ourselves in my New York apartment, because one couldn't leave New York, he had a TV show there, and we wrote a new script in two weeks," Emmerich said. As insane as it sounds, Emmerich knew that they had to do it. Emma Watts, at the time president of production at 20th Century Fox, had been doing daily calls, so there was no time to waste. The script had to get done.

Even without arguably the biggest star, "Independence Day: Resurgence" still managed to wrangle in nearly $400 million worldwide, a number that would have absolutely exploded had Will Smith still been on board. It may sound a bit bonkers to have been on lockdown for two weeks with writers, but with a $165 million budget on the line, extreme measures were necessary. Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, Dean Devlin. James Vanderbilt, and Roland Emmerich are all credited as writers on the screenplay, and I'm not-so-secretly hoping for an eventual dramatized limited series about writers being trapped in an apartment with Emmerich forced to write the sequel to one of the biggest blockbusters in history.