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Independence Day (also known by its promotional abbreviation ID4) is a 1996 science fiction film about a hostile alien invasion of Earth, focusing on a disparate group of individuals and families as they converge in the Nevada desert and, along with the rest of the human population, participate in a last-chance retaliation on July 4 – the same date as the Independence Day holiday in the United States. It was directed by Roland Emmerich, who co-wrote the script with producer Dean Devlin.
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 Devlin decided to incorporate a large-scale attack when noticing that aliens in most invasion films travel long distances in Outer space only to remain hidden when reaching Earth. Principal photography for the film began in July 1995 in New York City, and the film was officially completed on June 20, 1996.
The film was scheduled for release on July 3, 1996, but due to the high level of anticipation for the movie, many theaters began showing it on the evening of July 2, 1996, the same day the film begins. The movie's combined domestic and international box office gross is $816,969,268, which at one point was the second-highest worldwide gross of all-time. It holds the 25th highest worldwide gross of a movie all-time, and was at the forefront of the large-scale disaster film and science fiction resurgences of the mid-to-late-1990s.
On July 2, a massive alien mothership enters orbit around Earth and deploys saucer-shaped spacecraft wide over major cities. In New York City, David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) discovers transmissions that he believes the aliens use as a timer to coordinate their attack. David and his father Julius (Judd Hirsch) warn the President, Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman), of the attack by playing on David's relationship with his ex-wife Constance (Margaret Colin) who is on the President's staff. The President orders evacuations of the targeted cities shortly before the aliens' timer runs out. The President, his daughter, portions of his staff and the Levinsons narrowly escape aboard Air Force One as the destroyers lay waste to Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles and other major cities around the world. The President's wife, First Lady Marilyn Whitmore (Mary McDonnell), was at a speaking engagement in Los Angeles and was evacuated, but the helicopter crashes.
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