Weekend Forecast for June 24-26, 2016

By Reagen Sulewski

June 24, 2016

I'd buy Goldblum as an astronaut, but not Hemsworth.

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Hollywood’s trip down memory lane finally takes one step too far this weekend, with the return to a franchise that hasn’t aged well in the mind’s eye and might have best been left where it was.

The fact that it’s taken 20 years to make an Independence Day sequel is a bit of a historical curiosity – if the first film (ID4, as all the hip kids called it back then) had been made this decade, we’d already really be on the fourth film in the series (ID4x4?) instead of a belated, half-thought out cash grab. The idea of a $300 million film (with close to one billion in worldwide grosses) not being repeated seems a bit quaint now. Meanwhile we’re approaching our fifth Transformers film within a decade with a Bumblebee specific spinoff and things like Now You See Me are getting the “of course we’re making a second one" treatment, since studios have totally run out of ideas. But I digress.

Independence Day was at the vanguard of the 1990s trend of “landmark porn”, the ever escalating battle of tentpole disaster pictures in destroying recognizable buildings. In this case, it was a closing trailer shot of the White House getting blasted by an alien laser beam and splintering into so much debris that announced that this film meant business – it was something that hadn’t been seen before in American cinema. Combined with the excellent hook of the film – an alien invasion of Earth and a release date that tied into the July 4th holiday – and it was a perfect storm of marketing.


Indeed, interest got to such a fever pitch that its release date was ultimately moved by two days, creating a six-day long opening “weekend” with the then-princely sum of $96 million brought in during it, and $50 million over three days. This, combined with the following year’s The Lost World, kick-started a lot of the modern fascination of box office, and is a big part of the reason that I’ve been writing about this stuff for nearly 20 years (wait, that’s wrong, isn’t it?).

But, while it was a near perfect capture of the zeitgeist of 1996, this many years later, the idea is simply tired and stale looking, and the film itself disappeared into the memory hole rather quickly. It also hasn’t been helped by director Roland Emmerich (who realllllly hates humanity) repeating his bit on multiple occasions, up to the nonsensical 2012 movie, which is kinda stealing this movie’s bit already. It also marked the moment of ascendency for one Will Smith, who became the World’s Biggest Star for a couple of years after this and who this time around plays Sir Not Appearing In This Movie, taking a major amount of wind out of its sails. But we’ve got Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum and Brent Spiner, you kids like those guys, right? … Ask your parents. OK, OK, Liam “The Other” Hemsworth. But that’s a noticeable trade down.

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