According to producer/co-writer Dean Devlin, the U.S. military had agreed to support the film by allowing the crew to film at military bases, consulting the actors who have military roles, etc. However, after learning of the Area 51 references in the script, they withdrew their support.
Production designer Patrick Tatopoulos presented Roland Emmerich with two concepts for the aliens. Emmerich liked both designs so much, he came up with the idea to use one design as the actual alien and the other to be a bio-mechanical suit the aliens could wear. Both of Tatopoulos's concepts appear in the film.
The scene in which Will Smith drags the unconscious alien across the desert was filmed on the salt flats near Great Salt Lake in Utah. Smith's line, "And what the hell is that *smell*?" was unscripted. Great Salt Lake is home to tiny crustaceans called brine shrimp. When they die, the bodies sink to the bottom of the lake (which isn't very deep) and decompose. When the wind kicks up just right, the bottom mud is disturbed and the smell of millions of decaying brine shrimp can be very very bad. Apparently, nobody warned Will.
The President's speech was filmed on August 6, 1995 in front of an old airplane hangar that once housed the Enola Gay, which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima exactly fifty years earlier on August 6, 1945.
Holds the record for most miniature model work to appear in one film. Model shop supervisor Michael Joyce estimated that more miniatures were used for this film than in any other two films combined. Due to the advances in digital technology since this film's release, most experts believe this record may stand forever.
Director Roland Emmerich was notified one day that Robert Loggia was very upset and refusing to leave his trailer. Several days earlier, producer Dean Devlin accidentally suggested to Loggia that he watch Airplane! (1980) for inspiration when he actually intended to suggest Airport (1970). Not familiar with either film, Loggia rented Airplane! and after watching it thought that he had unknowingly been participating in the production of a "spoof" movie.
In the briefing room scene at Area 51 behind Hiller and Grey there is a night vision pan of the base. What you are seeing are actual shots of the real Area 51 taken by a conspiracy theorist from a place called "Freedom Ridge". The ridge was commandeered by the U.S. government in the late 90s and is no longer accessible to the public.
The film was banned in Lebanon under pressure from Hezbollah, because it included scenes where Israeli and Iraqi soldiers joined forces, in the montage where militaries around the world signed onto the U.S. plan to counter-attack the alien forces. For the last few decades, Lebanon officially boycotts any form of entertainment that features Israelis.
The main helicopter used during the "Welcome Wagon" operation was a Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane which was outfitted with an array of flashing lights. In the DVD commentary, producer Dean Devlin said that when they first test-flew the helicopter with the lights on, over 150 calls were received in Orange County from callers who spotted the helicopter and, unsure of what it was, reported it as a "U.F.O. sighting".
The final sentence of the President's speech was not in the original script and was added at the last minute for dramatic effect in an effort to convince 20th Century Fox not to avoid a legal battle to earn the right to name the film "Independence Day." At the time, the production was nicknamed "ID4" because Warner Bros. owned the rights to the title Independence Day, and Dean Devlin had hoped if Fox executives noticed the addition in dailies, the impact of the new dialogue would help them win the rights to the title. The right to use the title was eventually won two weeks later.
President Whitmore was originally intended to be a Richard Nixon-like figure. The role was originally written for Kevin Spacey, Dean Devlin's friend from high school. An executive at Fox refused to cast Spacey, insisting he didn't have the potential to be a big star. The part was re-written and Bill Pullman was then cast in the role. Ironically, Spacey would later become a much bigger star than Pullman (until allegations of sexual harassment ended his career), was cast as an alien in K-PAX (2001), and as the President of the United States in House of Cards (2013).
According to the liner notes from the recent La La Land Records limited release of the complete score by David Arnold, the drum rhythm heard during the invasion scenes near the beginning of the film are Morse Code letters D-I-E.
The huge hype that the film began generating in early 1996 caused Warner Bros. to postpone the release of Mars Attacks! (1996) from summer to Christmas, and Steven Spielberg (temporarily) cancelled his plans to direct War of the Worlds (2005).
To achieve the look of Houston as seen from the air at night, the crew simply poked holes in a sheet of black construction paper, placed the paper in front of a bright light in a smoke-filled room, and photographed it using special lighting to accomplish the effect.
Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin got the idea for the film while fielding a question about the existence of alien life during promotion for Stargate (1994). A reporter asked Emmerich why he made a film with content like that if he did not believe in aliens. Emmerich stated he was still fascinated by the idea of an alien arrival, and further explained his response by asking the reporter to imagine what it would be like to wake up one morning and discover fifteen mile-wide spaceships were hovering over the world's largest cities. Emmerich then turned to Devlin and said, "I think I have an idea for our next film."
The producers wanted to find real-life material that reflected how a small but elite air force could face off against overwhelming power (like the alien armada) and they contacted the Israeli Air Force to request footage. The IAF agreed after clearing post-combat videos of any classified materials, and the footage helped Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin script and film the climactic battle.
The White House which exploded was built at 1/12 scale, just to be blown up (although it was also used in one other shot, when David and Julius stop the car in front of the White House). Nine cameras filmed the explosion at various speeds, one of which was twelve times faster than normal, then played back at normal speed to make the explosion seem larger and slower on film. This scene appeared prominently in most teasers, trailers and TV spots, and is widely regarded as the film's most iconic shot. It even appeared on the cover of most VHS editions of the film.
Along with Anatomy of a Murder (1959), Glory (1989), Crimson Tide (1995), and The Dark Knight (2008), this is one of only four films whose purely orchestral soundtracks won the Grammy Award for Best Score despite not being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score.
In the Special Edition, Vivica A. Fox's character quits her job as a stripper. When she leaves, she says to her boss, "Nice working for you, Mario!" in a sarcastic tone. This is a jab at producer Mario Kassar, who forced Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin to cut some scenes from their last film, Stargate (1994).
The abbreviation "ID4" was invented due to legal problems with the title "Independence Day". Before 20th Century Fox reached a deal with Warner Bros. for the rights to the title, they suggested the film be called "Invasion" or "Sky on Fire" among many other titles.
The Macintosh laptop that David uses is shown as a Powerbook XXXX, a prototype model with no designation. Despite this, clips from the film, showing the laptop with its prominent Apple logo, were used a series of Powerbook ads at the time. The ads' slogan was "What kind of laptop would *you* choose to save the world?"
When Captain Hiller is talking to General Grey about returning to El Toro, the giant screen behind them is displaying some sort of night vision display and the bottom of the screen is endlessly rotating through various numbers and stats. At one point, instead of numbers, the screen reads "And now I see with eye serene the very pulse of the machine - Wordsworth", an excerpt of a William Wordsworth poem entitled "She Was a Phantom of Delight."
Spanish television advertisements for this movie, showing the large ships hovering over New York City, were mistaken by some Spaniards for real disaster news footage much as Orson Welles' War of the Worlds radio play sparked alien-war panic.
Struggling to write the score, David Arnold secluded himself in a Los Angeles hotel room for almost four months to avoid the escalating hype for the film. But from his window he saw helicopters carrying banners with taglines to the film as part of a marketing campaign, which only stressed him out even more.
Traditionally, Roland Emmerich's regular film crew gives several cast members nicknames by the end of filming. Will Smith was given the nickname "Mr. Charisma". Jeff Goldblum was nicknamed "Nice" because of his tendency to say "Nice! Nice!" when agreeing with Roland Emmerich's direction. Robert Loggia was nicknamed "The Turtle" because despite his hard exterior, he was soft on the inside. And Julie Moran received the nickname "Evil" because her name appears in the credits at the same time the music turns ominous (a tradition that had started on Emmerich's previous film, Stargate (1994)).
The "futuristic" looking computer in the control center at Area 51 are components of an IBM AN/FSQ-7 Combat Direction Central, built in 1954 to protect the U.S. from a Soviet bomber attack. It was the largest and heaviest computer system ever built, the full system weighing 6,000 tons and taking up an entire floor of a bomb-proof blockhouse. Components of decommissioned systems were sold for scrap and bought by film and television production companies who wanted futuristic looking computers, despite the fact they were built in the 1950s. The components used in this film were previously used in The Time Tunnel (1966) and The Towering Inferno (1974) amongst many others.
Will Smith's squadron were stationed at MCAS El Toro. This is the same name as the air base from which the Flying Wing Bomber flew out of to drop the A-bomb on the Martians in the movie The War of the Worlds (1953). MCAS El Toro was a real air base in Orange County, California, from 1943 until its decommissioning in 1999.
Shown on a computer monitor in the S.E.T.I. office is a diagram of "Deep Space Satellite Devlin" (named after Dean Devlin). The satellite is a miniature version of the Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) Death Star with solar arrays attached.
The phrases said by the pilots when firing their missiles is NATO brevity code for the types of missiles being launched. "Fox One" means a semi-active radar-guided missile (AIM-7 Sparrow), "Fox Two" is an infrared-guided (heat-seeking) missile (AIM-9 Sidewinder), and "Fox Three" is is an active radar-guided missile (AIM-120 AMRAAM).
When Ally Walker suddenly became unavailable at the last minute, there was a rush to find a new actress to portray Connie. When then 37-year-old Margaret Colin jokingly told an inexperienced casting assistant that she was only 22, the man assumed she was too young and called the producers to tell them she was unavailable. When the confusion was cleared up, Colin landed the role, and began filming scenes in Utah less than 24 hours after she was cast.
The man in the Los Angeles office building that is destroyed in the initial attack is played by Volker Engel, the movie's visual effects supervisor. The building also contains his initials on the exterior.
A scene in which Jeff Goldblum explains the nature of the alien signal and how it could be blocked was cut from the Theatrical Verson of the film, possibly to avoid controversy as Harvey Fierstein plants an unscripted kiss on an unsuspecting Goldblum. This scene was restored in its entirety for the Special Edition.
When David is searching the telephone directory, some street names include: Last Exit, Sub Wy, Drive Wy, Sky Walk, Hard Dr, Chuckjones Dr (cartoonist Chuck Jones), Theeme Pk, C. Old Maurice, Window Jump, Onthe Rd, Guesswho Blvd, Yumyum Rd and for Connie- Heresheis Av.
Within the first few minutes of the very first day of principal photography, a pigeon pooped on Dean Devlin's head. Locals were quick to inform Devlin that in New York City, this is considered a sign of good luck.
The smoky effect of the alien spacecraft as it moves into position above New York City (starts about 24 minutes and 22 seconds into the movie) was created by a double exposure on the film. The effect comes from recording water in a tank turning murky after a clod of dirt was dropped into it.
Dean Devlin, who served as the second unit director, and directed the close-up shots of actors in F-18 cockpits, let Harry Connick Jr. improvise several takes while doing impressions of various celebrities. His impression of Reverend Jesse Jackson is included in the film.
Using a model previously used for the film Speed (1994), the crew filmed a scene where a bus crashes through a billboard for the movie Stargate (1994), also directed by Roland Emmerich. They also filmed a scene where a theater whose marquee reads "Coming Soon: Independence Day" is destroyed. However, neither scene appears in the final cut.
To give the aliens a slimy appearance, K-Y Jelly was used. It had to be applied to the alien prop several times during outdoor scenes because the intense heat in the Utah desert caused the jelly to evaporate in just a few minutes.
To achieve the effect of flames traveling along the street, the crew placed a downward-facing high-speed camera above a miniature model of a street tilted at roughly ninety degrees. When explosives were set off on the ground, the flames would rise toward the camera while engulfing the model. When the film was then played at normal speed, it gave the illusion that the flames were traveling laterally at the speed seen in the film.
The shoot utilized on-set, in-camera special effects more often than computer-generated effects in an effort to save money and get more authentic pyrotechnic results. Many of these shots were accomplished at Hughes Aircraft in Culver City, California, where the film's art department, motion control photography teams, pyrotechnics team, and model shop were headquartered.
Between principal photography and the re-shoot of Russell's scenes in his F18, the cockpit mock-up was used in The Rock (1996) and had been repainted. Therefore Russell's F18 is darker than the other planes.
Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich had always envisioned an African-American for the role of Steven Hiller and specifically wanted Will Smith after seeing his performance in Six Degrees of Separation (1993). Up until then, Smith was mostly known for doing comedy series on TV, most prominently The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990). Emmerich later mentioned that the decision met with some initial resistance and even racism from some studio executives, but he stood his ground. The role launched Smith's movie career and practically made him a bankable superstar overnight.
Mad Magazine did a parody in which the virus transmitted to the aliens was Windows '95. This computer operating system was notorious at the time for its frequent bugs which caused compatibility problems with other programs.
DIRECTOR_TRADEMARK(Roland Emmerich): : The number 44 is seen on the headrest in Russell's F-18 cockpit, several televisions are tuned to channel 44. When the ship above Area 51 is destroyed, just as it's falling to Earth, 44 can be seen in the flames on the side of the ship.
According to a back-story established by the cast and crew, Dr. Okun was recruited by the military out of Berkeley in the 1960s, and due to the top-secret nature of his work, has been isolated at Area 51 since. Although never revealed in the film, his first name was established as Brackish, a word meaning "unappealing" or "repulsive".
A month after the film's release, jewelry designers and marketing consultants reported an increased interest in dolphin-themed jewelry, since the character of Jasmine in the film wears dolphin earrings, and is presented with a wedding ring featuring a gold dolphin.
The production's model-making department built more than twice as many miniatures for the production than had ever been built for any film before, by creating miniatures for buildings, city streets, aircraft, landmarks, and monuments. The crew also built miniatures for several of the spaceships featured in the film, including a thirty foot destroyer model, and a version of the mother ship spanning twelve feet.
The actual aliens of the film are diminutive and based on a design Patrick Tatopoulos drew when tasked by Roland Emmerich to create an alien that was "both familiar and completely original". These creatures wear "bio-mechanical" suits that are based on another design Tatopoulos pitched to Emmerich. These suits were 8 feet (2.4 m) tall, equipped with 25 tentacles, and purposely designed to show it could not sustain a person inside so it would not appear to be a "man in a suit".
"Area 51" is a real life U.S. Air Force facility. The Wikipedia website states that it "is a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base, within the Nevada Test and Training Range. According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the correct names for the facility are Homey Airport (ICAO: KXTA) and Groom Lake, though the name Area 51 was used in a CIA document from the Vietnam War. Other names used for the facility include Dreamland, and nicknames Paradise Ranch, Home Base and Watertown. The special use airspace around the field is referred to as Restricted Area 4808 North (R-4808N). The base's current primary purpose is publicly unknown; however, based on historical evidence, it most likely supports the development and testing of experimental aircraft and weapons systems (black projects). The intense secrecy surrounding the base has made it the frequent subject of conspiracy theories and a central component to unidentified flying object (U.F.O.) folklore. Although the base has never been declared a secret base, all research and occurrences in Area 51 are Top Secret / Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS / SCI). In July 2013, following an FOIA request filed in 2005, the CIA publicly acknowledged the existence of the base for the first time, declassifying documents detailing the history and purpose of Area 51."
20th Century Fox set up a 1-900 number for people to call and record their very own audio review of the film. Clips of these recordings were used in a series of post-release television ads for the film.
Sets for the latter Area 51 included corridors containing windows that were covered with blue material. The filmmakers originally intended to use the chroma key technique to make it appear as if activity was happening on the other side of the glass; but the composited images were not added to the final print because production designers decided the blue panels gave the sets a "clinical look".
David's character suffers from air sickness; in previous film roles, Jeff Goldblum has played characters with various sicknesses, e.g. sea sickness in The Right Stuff (1983), motion sickness in The Fly (1986), and even in Jurassic Park (1993) he's seen clutching his stomach in some scenes, etc.
When they are approaching the White House, David tells Julius that Connie "always keeps her portable phone listed for emergencies." Not cell phone. Most people did not carry cellphones yet at that time.
After the climatic battle, one of the F/A-18s that returns to the base can be seen with the tail code of 'VM'. This is the designation for Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 (VMFA-314) Black Knights, the same squadron that Will Smith flies with in the film, and that gets massacred by the city destroyer that took out Los Angeles.
This movie was mentioned by infamous serial killer Aileen Wuornos just before her execution on six accounts of murder. Reportedly, her last words before receiving a lethal injection were "I'd just like to say I'm sailing with the rock, and I'll be back like Independence Day with Jesus June 6. Like the movie, big mother ship and all. I'll be back."
Jeff Goldblum's son Charlie Ocean was born on Independence Day in 2015. Goldblum wrote on Facebook: "We're so excited to share the wonderful news of the birth of our son, Charlie Ocean Goldblum, born on the 4th of July. Independence Day."
The novelization of the film establishes President Whitmore as a young Senator from Chicago prior to becoming president. He even gloats to a Secret Service agent about a Chicago White Sox victory over the Kansas City Royals. Life imitated art twelve years later, when a White Sox fan and Senator from Chicago named Barack Obama became President.
Diana Bellamy, Judith Hoag, and Jessica Tuck were all cast in large roles that were ultimately deemed extraneous and not included in the final script. Richard Riehle and Sam Anderson were set to portray David's boss Marty and the Secretary of Defense, respectively, but both roles were re-cast. As compensation, Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich promised them all roles in The Visitor (1997).
According to the What Culture website, "Independence Day modernized the disaster movie premise, replacing natural disasters with extraterrestrial ones and slathering on the fun. It borrowed a trend of blowing up famed national monuments from the B Movie genre and gave it steroids on screen, something that would continue over the next two decades."
In the scene where Will Smith is dragging the alien across the desert, after he kicks the parachute with the alien in it and the RVs are approaching, when the shot cuts to the side of the RVs, you can see I-80 on the horizon line, most distinctly, you can see a tractor trailer travelling on it.
Bobby Hosea filmed his only scene during re-shoots on October 3, 1995, the same day the verdict was read in the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Hosea had previously starred as Simpson in the made-for-TV film The O.J. Simpson Story (1995).
Several people in this movie also appear in either Stargate (1994) or Stargate: SG-1. Most notably is Erick Avari who plays a SETI tech in this movie, and Kasuf in Stargate and Stargate: SG-1. The Stargate franchise was also created by Roland Emmerich who created this movie.
Unique Premiere schedule: UK Odeon Leicester Square held first premiere as advanced marketed as 'ID4', upon July 4, 1996, which was attended by Will Smith, that guaranteed an enormous tourist crowd. Then with several weeks until the public release, ensured strong recommendations in the UK.
During the nuking scene, the B-2 pilots' uniforms have the patch of the 509th Bomb Wing on them. The 509th Bomb Wing is based out of Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri and operates the B-2 bomber in real-life, as in the movie.
Actor Rance Howard and Voice Actor Frank Welker would both work that same year in another Alien Invasion film: Mars Attacks! (1996). Howard played two different roles, as a Texan Investor in 'Mars Attacks', and as a Chaplain in 'Independence Day'. Welker would do 'Alien Voices' in both.
The running time of Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) is two hours or 120 minutes, whereas for the first film, Independence Day clocked almost two-and-a-half hours at 145 min (or 154 min for the Special Edition), making Resurgence the shorter movie of the two, with a run time of about 25 min less (or 34 min for the longer version) than Independence Day.
Roland Emmerich: [Sky News] In any Roland Emmerich movie in which news broadcasts are depicted, his foreign news station of choice is SkyNews. Here, it appears in Russian. Sky News is owned by the News Corporation (now 21st Century Fox, Inc.), the same company that owns 20th Century Fox, which released this movie.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
A version with Russell Casse flying his bi-plane in with a missile strapped to its wing at the last minute was re-shot, because it implied that Russell flew into the battle knowing that it would be a suicide mission, since he could not launch the missile from his plane. Roland Emmerich decided that the scene would be much more dramatic if Casse was in the air all the time, making the decision to sacrifice himself for his children on the spot.
Roland Emmerich admitted that during the movie's premiere at the White House, he gave his seat next to President Bill Clinton to Bill Pullman, fearing Clinton's reaction to the on-screen destruction of the White House.
The scene where Major Mitchell approaches a wounded alien and shoots him in the head at point blank range was not in the script and added at the last minute. This was done after one of the few complaints test audiences had was that the aliens weren't suffering enough.
As the crew and audiences liked the character of Dr. Okun so much, Dean Devlin and Brent Spiner have gone on record to say that his character was only in a coma, when he appeared to be dead. A brief shot of Major Mitchell saying Okun is dead was shot but deleted, with the idea that Okun could be brought back in any future media. This explains why Dr. Okun was able to return in the sequel Independence Day: Resurgence (2016), alive and well.
When David comes up with his idea on how to fight the aliens, he stands up and motions with his hands as if putting something on his head. This move was improvised by Jeff Goldblum, and it was intended to be David putting his 'thinking cap' back on.
The plot device by which the aliens were defeated is lifted from the original storyline of H.G. Wells's novel War Of The Worlds. In WOTW they were beaten by bacteria and viruses; in this film they were beaten because of a computer virus.
In the Special Edition version of the film, deleted scenes are restored that explain apparent inconsistencies in the Theatrical Version: - Upon arriving at Area 51, Russell Casse searches frantically for a doctor for his son Troy. He states that he has "a problem with his adrenal cortex". Since we've seen Troy vomiting and feverish earlier, he could be suffering from either Addison's Disease or Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, both of which affect the adrenal cortex and have vomiting as a symptom. - Miguel refers to Russell by his first name for most of the movie. A deleted scene reveals that this is because, as Miguel tells Russell, "You're not my father. You're just the guy that married my mother." This also explains why Miguel looks very little like Russell. - When David is driving to Washington, D.C. to alert Constance, he tells his father, "She always keeps her cell phone listed for emergencies." When he calls her, she answers the phone and says, "David! How did you get this number?" A deleted scene explains how he tracked her secret cell phone number down by searching for various aliases she's used in the past: in this case, it was her married name. - When Jasmine is first seen dancing, it soon cuts to her saying, "I came to get my check and I got talked into working." If one wonders where her son is while she's working unexpectedly (no time to call a sitter), a deleted scene shows him and Boomer the dog in the manager's office waiting for her. This is part of the reason she quits: her boss yells at her for "bringing that kid in here." - David gets a tour of the Alien Fighter's cockpit, where he recognizes the aliens' communication signal on a display. This shows how David had an early look at the aliens' computer program, and explains how he was able to use it to deliver a computer virus into the aliens' main computer.
Originally Russell Casse (Randy Quaid) flew his crop duster in the final battle, because the military had rejected him as a pilot. He appeared with a missile attached to the crop duster, then flew the crop duster into the alien ship. But when it was screened to test audiences, they felt it was too comedic, so they re-filmed the scene.
President Whitmore attacking the aliens would have been the first U.S. Commander-in-Chief to lead troops into combat since James Madison took command of a rearguard artillery battery to cover the retreat of the U.S. Army during the British attack on Washington, D.C., in 1814.
The scene where the White House is blown up was used in the "Finale Scene" of the great movie ride at the Disney/MGM studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios) at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. After the 9/11 attacks, the scene was removed and replaced with a scene from Armageddon (1998) after guest complaints.
After the nuclear bombing of Houston, Texas, silhouettes of street lights are a nod to the look of the alien invaders of The War of the Worlds (1953), who were also wiped out by a virus, then a biological type, and in "Independence Day", it is a computer virus.
The White House model covered ten feet by five feet, and was used in forced-perspective shots before being destroyed in a similar fashion for its own destruction scene. The detonation took a week to plan and required forty explosive charges.
Albert Nimzicki's firing lampoons Joe Nimziki, MGM's head of advertising who reportedly accounted for unpleasant experiences for Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich when studio executives forced recuts of Stargate (1994). For that reason, Emmerich and Devlin sent their script for Independence Day to every major studio except MGM.