Independence Day is old enough to drink.
The so-bad-it’s-great sci-fi thriller about an evil alien invasion premiered exactly 21 years ago. (Technically, the movie was released July 2.) To put that number in perspective, star Will Smith was just two months removed from the last episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. To put that in perspective, NBC was still at the height of Must-See TV. Anyhoo…. The flick has since become a summertime holiday staple, begging annual questions such as “How did Jeff Goldblum and Judd Hirsch beat traffic in downtown Washington D.C.?” and “Didn’t that stripper play Kelly Kapowski’s roommate on Saved by the Bell: The College Years?” In honor of No. 21, MaraMovies.com has scoured the universe for 21 fun facts about the flick. Impress your friends before the fireworks begin!
- Independence Day was the first big-budget summer movie to run a commercial during the Super Bowl (see it in the clip above). Think about that. It cost Fox a mere $1.3 million for a spot in January 1996. It was the start of a months-long, super-savvy advertising campaign, including an Apple tie-in thanks to Goldblum’s game-changing laptop in the film.
2. Matthew Perry was originally cast as Captain Jimmy Wilder. Alas, he had to drop out because of his Friends shooting schedule. The part of Smith’s quippy wingman instead went to Harry Connick Jr. Some of Perry’s improvised audition lines remain in the final cut.
3. Perry’s dad, John Bennett Perry, did appear in the film. As a secret service agent. He also appeared in a Season 4 episode of Friends. But not as Chandler Bing’s dad.
4. Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich wrote the screenplay in just four weeks. The idea came to Emmerich while he did press for Stargate. The film was shot in 72 days.
5. Bill Pullman’s President Whitmore character was written for Kevin Spacey. (The actor went to school with Devlin.) But he didn’t get cast because Twentieth Century Fox execs didn’t believe he had potential to be a big star. Spacey went on to win two Oscars — and play a president on House of Cards.
6. Titles that got scrapped: Invasion and Sky on Fire.
7. Per the Blu-Ray directors’ commentary, the last line of Pullman’s infamous speech to the fighter pilots, “Today we celebrate our Independence Day,” was added to the script as a way to persuade studio execs to keep Independence Day as the film’s title and not the options listed in No. 6.
8. Smith was nicknamed “Mr. Charisma” on the set. Wonder why.
9. Goldblum’s line, “Must go faster! Must go faster!” is an homage to the same line he uttered in Jurassic Park. Director Steven Spielberg was not amused.
10. Fun! Pullman has said he used the memory of a decayed tooth being yanked from his mouth to illustrate fear when speaking with the aliens.
11. The aliens’ icky goo consisted of K-Y jelly, per the New York Daily News back in 1996.
12. The White House interior sets were originally built for 1995’s The American President. They were also used for 1996’s alien-invasion comedy, Mars Attacks! More: The sets were built in an old airplane hangar.
13. The sound mix accompanying Randy Quaid’s plunge into a ship’s weaponry includes a voice clip of Godfather of Soul James Brown, according to Devlin. So good. So good.
14. There are approximately 400 speaking parts in the movie. Harvey Fierstein got the best ones.
15. During filming of the helicopter fitted with communication lighting, concerned witness called the LAPD about a possible UFO sighting.
16. The crucial plot point of Goldblum giving the alien mother ship a computer virus was derived from The War of the Worlds narrative — in which the aliens are defeated by pathogens.
17. With a $817.4 million worldwide box office, ID:4 was the highest-grossing film of 1996. It beat out Mission: Impossible and Twister.
18. Halfway to an EGOT: ID: 4 was nominated for two Oscars and won for Best Visual Effects. Its soundtrack earned a Grammy.
19. A man who won said Oscar, Volker Engle, appears in the film as the lone man in an L.A. office building who got destroyed during the initial attack.
20. Only stars Pullman, Goldblum, Hirsch, Vivica A. Fox and Brent Spiner returned for the misguided 2016 sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence. This movie did not screen for weekly critics.
21. Yep, Kiersten Warren appeared as kooky Alex in Saved by the Bell: The College Years from 1993-94. And she was a guest at Zack and Kelly’s Las Vegas wedding. Bottoms up!
(What’s your favorite Independence Day memory? Share below!)
Also published on Medium.