It took Roland Emmerich 20 years to return to the original Independence Day, finally following up his 1996 blockbuster with the upcoming Independence Day: Resurgence. But while Resurgence may be the first Independence Day sequel to make it to the big screen, it isn’t Emmerich’s first attempt.
The director is serving as a guest editor for Empire online this week, and to kick off his tenure, he answered a slew of reader questions about Independence Day and his wide-ranging career. In one answer, he discussed how he and original Independence Day writer Dean Devlin tried to pen a sequel script in the early 2000s, only to ultimately scrap it.
“It was after 9/11 and Dean and I wanted to make the movie about peace, and it just didn’t work,” Emmerich said. “There’s still an element of that in the new one, but that version was only about that. We shoot aliens down accidentally and then at the end of the movie they land on the White House lawn and say ‘we come in peace’ and that was it. It was just too weak an idea and we didn’t really want to do it. It didn’t have an Independence Day feel. Only the alien ship was destroyed!”
Emmerich also addressed why it took him 20 years to make a sequel — and why he changed his mind about never returning to the world of Independence Day.
“I’d never planned to make a sequel — I always felt that Independence Day was a standalone film,” he said. “But over the years I realized how iconic the film had become for people and I was repeatedly asked by [20th Century] Fox to do it. What really did it was just how amazing film technology is these days and how restricted I felt in ‘95/’96 when I did the original one. But it’s not a traditional sequel.”
Read Emmerich’s full Q&A at Empire. Independence Day: Resurgence, which stars Jeff Goldblum, Liam Hemsworth, Jesse Usher, and Bill Pullman, hits theaters on June 23.