The aliens are coming and their goal is to invade and destroy Earth. Fighting superior technology, mankind's best weapon is the will to survive.


Roland Emmerich
221 ( 10)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 34 wins & 35 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Will Smith ... Capt. Steven Hiller
Bill Pullman ... President Thomas J. Whitmore
Jeff Goldblum ... David Levinson
Mary McDonnell ... Marilyn Whitmore
Judd Hirsch ... Julius Levinson
Robert Loggia ... General William Grey
Randy Quaid ... Russell Casse
Margaret Colin ... Constance Spano
James Rebhorn ... Albert Nimziki
Harvey Fierstein ... Marty Gilbert
Adam Baldwin ... Major Mitchell
Brent Spiner ... Dr. Brakish Okun
James Duval ... Miguel
Vivica A. Fox ... Jasmine Dubrow
Lisa Jakub ... Alicia


On July 2nd, communications systems worldwide are sent into chaos by a strange atmospheric interference. It is soon learned by the military that a number of enormous objects are on a collision course with Earth. At first thought to be meteors, they are later revealed to be gigantic spacecraft, piloted by a mysterious alien species. After attempts to communicate with the aliens go nowhere, David Levinson, an ex-scientist turned cable technician, discovers that the aliens are going to attack major points around the globe in less than a day. On July 3rd, the aliens all but obliterate New York, Los Angeles and Washington, as well as Paris, London, Houston and Moscow. The survivors set out in convoys towards Area 51, a strange government testing ground where it is rumored the military has a captured alien spacecraft of their own. The survivors devise a plan to fight back against the enslaving aliens, and July 4th becomes the day humanity will fight for its freedom. July 4th is their ... Written by Gustaf Molin <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The doomsday ship See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sci-fi destruction and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Bill Pullman confirmed in an interview that the studio originally wanted to call the film "Doomsday". See more »


(at around 1h 35 mins) When Levinson is kicking stuff around in Area 51, one of the trash cans is marked "ART DEPT" on the bottom. Area 51 would not seem to have an art dept. Suggestions that ART is a military acronym or abbreviation are amusing, but don't stand as mitigation. See more »


[first lines]
SETI Chief: [answering telephone] If this isn't an insanely beautiful woman, I'm hangin' up.
SETI technician: Sir, I - I- I think you should listen to this.
See more »

Crazy Credits

"Animal action was monitored by the American Humane Association. No animals or aliens were harmed in the making of this film." See more »

Alternate Versions

In most versions shown in cinemas and also the ones available on video, scenes are missing that stress the global dimension of the alien attack. In these scenes, international tv-journalists report about the devastation in their respective countries, and the destroying of international cities is shown (e.g. Paris). The cast list still contains some of these reporters, e.g. it names Jessica Cardinahl as German reporter, and also Korean and Russian reporters. These scenes were interesting, as they illustrate that the aliens are not an American problem, but a global one. See more »


Featured in Great Movie Mistakes (2010) See more »


Live It Cool
Written by Junior Vasquez & Lydia Rhodes
Performed by Lydia Rhodes
Courtesy of MCA Records
See more »

User Reviews

Big and Dumb, but Weirdly Charming, ID4 is a Lasting '90s Blockbuster
21 September 2020 | by drqshadow-reviewsSee all my reviews

Giant, hostile, alien spaceships appear overnight to move on Earth's natural resources; humanity's last, desperate hope is a shaky plan involving a captured UFO from the 1950s and an old PowerBook laptop. Seems like this one was a guilty-pleasure classic from opening day. ID4 isn't well-written and constantly bathes itself in dense layers of cheese, but it tries hard, most the character arcs connect and the big special effects hold up quite well, despite their age.

For a movie that's so thoroughly reliant on spectacle, that last point is pretty important. The power of watching the White House or Empire State Building burst into a billion bitty pieces is still there, irresistible, while the magnitude of the invading fleet remains immense, and I think both can be attributed to the production's choice to eschew then-new CG techniques in favor of a large, intricately detailed stable of miniatures. We get a few hiccups, like the obviously green-screened fighter jets or the absurd visual of a golden retriever leaping to slow-motion safety through a fiery inferno, but for the most part it all looks great and it's still easy to get sucked into the experience.

Of course, the whole thing is over-acted to death. Roland Emmerich has never been one to bring out nuance from his cast, and this is an awfully shallow effort, even by his standards. Bill Pullman nails the big motivational speech, set to a telegraphed swell of patriotic symphony, but otherwise lacks conviction as a limp, reactive PotUS. Randy Quaid is a cheap xerox of every alien abduction stereotype to ever enter pop culture. Jeff Goldblum is naturally quirky enough to make his role worthwhile, but it takes every bit of his innate charismatic magnetism to overcome the dumb plot developments. Will Smith is the only unequivocal success, barking and fist-pumping his way to bonafide action hero status in a simple but essential role as a beefy marine / pure force of will.

From a critical perspective, this is cinematic junk food. Big bangs and shiny lights to dazzle the box office crowd, with a few easy jokes to lighten the mood. But yet, there's something else to it, something essential and inexplicable. It's just raw, simple fun, I suppose, that makes no apologies for how it acts or what it aims to be. It won't make you think or weep, but you'll feel, and that's worth something.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

3 July 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

ID4 See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$75,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$50,228,264, 7 July 1996

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (extended cut)

Sound Mix:

DTS 70 mm (70 mm print)| DTS (35 mm prints)| Dolby Digital (35 mm prints)| SDDS (35 mm prints)| DTS (DTS: X)



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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