Independence Day is a 1996 American epic 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, and Harvey Fierstein. 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 4—Independence Day in the United States.
While promoting Stargate in Europe, Emmerich came up with the idea for the film while answering 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.
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 mixed to positive reviews and grossed over $817.4 million worldwide, 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. 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.