Roland Emmerich

Godzilla Through Goggles

Godzilla isn’t just a monster. He’s more than just an ancient Japanese movie god. He is an icon of science fiction, more responsible than any other creature for bringing kaiju films to the awareness of the world. Sure, Gamera is cool too, but the international cinematic community hasn’t quite embraced the giant turtle the way they have this giant lizard. Since his debut in 1954, Godzilla has become a household name, and his appearance is legendary. Even with the hiccup that was Roland Emmerich’s 1998 attempt (resulting in a creature that is rejected as proper canon to the series), Godzilla has remained the king of the monsters, literally getting bigger and bigger every year. (Seriously, he’s now more than twice as tall as the original from 1954.) These films sure are fun to watch, but when you see enough of them, you can’t help but wonder: Could a creature the size of Godzilla actually exist? Could we make our own?

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Come With Me Godzilla

The ‘90s were a special time for the Hollywood movie soundtrack. From Prince’s “Batdance” for 1989’s Batman to LL Cool J’s shark dance for 1999’s Deep Blue Sea, pop soundtracks became no longer a direct record of the songs featured in a film, but an eclectic hit parade of contemporary popular artists whose relationship of the film in question was often tenuous at best. Movie soundtracks, especially those for summer tentpole entertainment, served a function similar to the ‘90s NOW! series: as a means of assembling tested and would-be radio and MTV hits in one accessible package. Except this package was meant also to promote a movie. Such promotion followed a routine formula. Turn the music video into a four-minute commercial for the film. Turn the film into a promotional device for the soundtrack by placing the big single over the end credits like an earworm. None of the other songs on the soundtrack needed to be in the film. But the 1998 soundtrack to Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla was different. Like its title character, the soundtrack was big, brash, noisy, not-at-all subtle, and lucrative, yet it destroyed everything in its path. There are several reasons why Hollywood movies don’t produce pop soundtracks like this anymore, but the Godzilla soundtrack (if not the movie itself) deserves appreciation for its dumb, audacious weirdness.

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Independence Day White House

Will Smith isn’t going to star in the promised/threatened Independence Day sequel. If we’re all being honest, that’s not really a big deal except to Hollywood accountants still using actuarial tables from 2008 — he was hardly the only lifeline in the 1996 alien invasion flick, and a cigar-chomping cameo might be more exciting than seeing him monopolize the plot. The bigger question is why we need a sequel to it in the first place, but not in the typical insta-response way that decades-later sequels (and remakes) typically provoke. After all, you could look at Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and think, “Fine, there’s something new to say about greed in a post-Goldman Sachs era.” For ID Forever Part One (Part one!), it’s an exhausting prospect that we’ve got to fight the aliens again and save the planet again and escape that flaming traffic tunnel with the Labrador again. I hope you’ve all been training.

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WHD

No, Roland Emmerich doesn’t blow up the White House (again) in his latest patriotic pulse-pounder, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t put a really hurting on America’s presidential palace. After all, the director’s newest film is called White House Down, and it centers on something that seems to have captured Emmerich’s attention back since his opus, Independence Day – namely, what it means to wreak havoc on historical real estate in the middle of national crisis. Instead of focusing on a worldwide catastrophe for his latest actioner, Emmerich has scaled back (well, as much as Emmerich can scale back) and focused his film on a set of coordinated attacks that target the heart of America’s government by infiltrating the White House and going after the president himself. Jamie Foxx leads the cast as President James Sawyer, the leader of the free world (and not exactly President Barack Obama, but clearly a man influenced by him) and a guy who has just decreed that all American troops are to be pulled out of the Middle East immediately and finally. Clearly, Sawyer’s decision has pissed off a lot of people – including his sulky head of the Secret Service (James Woods), the military-industrial complex, and pretty much every Republican in existence. Sawyer may be popular with the people, but he’s not so popular in DC. Meanwhile (there’s nothing Emmerich loves more than a great “meanwhile!”), Channing Tatum’s John Cale is toughing it out in his own way. A police officer who […]

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ID4 Will Smith

Welcome to Earth. According to an interview with New York Daily News, director Roland Emmerich explained that Will Smith would not be returning for the Independence Day sequel (due out in 2015) because he simply costs too much. “Will Smith can not come back because he’s too expensive, but he’d also be too much of a marquee name,” the filmmaker said. This is after a lackluster showing with After Earth and a new reliance on global recognition for the star (MIB 3’s gross box office was 71% foreign). Of course, that’s not to say that Smith has to lift a finger for the next million years in order to live comfortably, and even though it was the movie that launched him, it makes sense that he wouldn’t want to return for ID4 Forever Part 1 (which is really what it’s being called for some reason). Mostly because the title is stupid. Partially because he already has a ton on his plate (including a directorial debut in the works).

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White House Down

Finally, a film that hopefully answers life’s greatest questions, including but not limited to “why is there a rocket launcher in the presidential limousine?” With this new 4-minute trailer, Roland Emmerich’s White House Down seems intent to solidify its place at the top of Summer 2013’s Most Ridiculous Summer Movies list. Consider that achievement unlocked.

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The Purge

Plenty of entertainment news happened over the weekend while you were girding your loins for a very special season finale of Game of Thrones (or going outside like a normal person, perhaps). We’ve rounded a bunch of it up into a neat little news package we call our afternoon Biz Break. 

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commentary-id4

In the summer of 1996, Will Smith became a bona fide box office star with the blockbuster hit Independence Day. It was a time of sunny outlooks for all involved. Co-star Jeff Goldblum was fresh off two successful Jurassic Park movies. Director Roland Emmerich had not yet made the disastrous Godzilla. Smith was a good decade away from making movies that star his yet-to-be-born son Jaden. Emmerich and writing/producing partner Dean Devlin recorded a commentary for Independence Day several years after its release when it hit DVD. Recorded at a time before full-blown CGI effects were the norm for pretty much everything in a Hollywood production, Emmerich and Devlin tend to focus on the spectacle of the film, but they still offer some interesting insight into its development and writing.

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White House Down

The United States finds itself under attack in White House Down, where Jamie Foxx plays the President, and Channing Tatum plays a greasy Channing Tatum in full rescue mode. It’s purely a product of timing, but the symbolism of Foxx playing Django six months before we’ll see him as the Commander-in-Chief is pretty huge. No doubt the deep-thinking Roland Emmerich saw the possibility all along. It’s also a nice product of timing that Tatum is in the G.I. Joe sequel this weekend at the same time that the other White House under attack movie (Olympus Has Fallen) has already made its box office presence felt. The marketing team must be really happy. Fortunately for everyone, this trailer more than delineate between White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen. At the very least — you didn’t expect Emmerich’s characters to go stealth mode, did you? Seriously — what doest that guy have against important federal buildings? Give your ear drums the middle finger and check the trailer out for yourself:

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WHD_ONLN_1SHT_CPTL_01.indd

UPDATED: Now with one more new teaser poster! Did you want to go on vacation in our nation’s capital any time soon? Perhaps you would like to sit outside the Capitol Building, gazing up at the sky for no reason whatsover? Or to relive Forrest Gump on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial? Or to really just feel kind of fuzzy and out of sorts and typical in Washington, D.C.? Sounds like you’ve been tasked with populating the new teaser posters for Roland Emmerich‘s White House Down, starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx. Look! There you are! Just to the right! Suffice to say, it doesn’t seem as if the big budget was brought out for these first looks, but with the film’s first trailer dropping tomorrow, we’ll soon get a real taste of the year’s other “Die Hard in the White House.” The film also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods, Richard Jenkins, Joey King, and Rachelle Lefevre. Check out the other teaser poster after the break. White House Down opens on June 28th. [Moviefone]

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Independence Day (1996) Movie

Our new best friend, German movie site FilmStarts, appears to be getting a hell of a lot of mileage out of their White House Down set visit, as their latest exclusive (“exklusiv” in German, which is much better) reveals the apparent titles for the upcoming Independence Day sequels. And, much like last week’s late reveal of the Star Trek sequel title, let’s prepare for everyone to flip their wigs over something that doesn’t really amount to much. The site shares that director Roland Emmerich informed them that this two sequels to his beloved American classic (this is our beloved American classic!) would be called ID Forever – Part 1 and ID Forever – Part 2. Stirring stuff. Any relation to Batman Forever? Emmerich also revealed that, per Google Translate, the films are “not used individually, therefore, but a package to be.” The assumed meaning is that the films will be shot together, which makes the most sense, at least technically and economically speaking. Emmerich also let on that’s he “has an aversion to 3D” and won’t film in the format, though he does assume that his sequels would be available in said format, thanks to the magic of post-production. [FilmStarts, via Bleeding Cool and ComingSoon]

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2012 Movie Roland Emmerich

The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: 2012 (2009) The Plot: Disaster filmmaker extraordinaire Roland Emmerich gives audiences his vision of how the world will end in this 2009 blockbuster. As the clock ticks closer to December 21, 2012, geologists and other scientists discover various anomalies happening to our planet. Solar flares are tossing neutrinos across space, and they are impacting the Earth’s mantle. They predict global catastrophe as the crust shifts and the Earth’s plates rearrange. Eventually, massive earthquakes wipe entire cities off the globe while one family, led by John Cusack, makes an escape in a limousine of awesomeness.

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We’ve known for a while that Channing Tatum was going to play a heroic Secret Service agent who protects the President during an attack on the White House in Roland Emmerich’s upcoming action film White House Down. It’s been a scary proposition to think about, because everybody knows that action star Channing Tatum is the worst Channing Tatum you can get. He’s much better when he’s being funny or dancing, which doesn’t sound like things he’s going to get much of a chance to do in a movie that keeps getting described as “Die Hard in the White House.” Unfortunately, this movie may be giving us the return of the dreaded Wooden Channing Tatum. Some new casting rumors introduce new promise to the production, however. While watching Tatum try to pull off stalwart and stern for two hours is likely to be a chore, his supporting cast just may end up being talented enough to pull him through this one unscathed. First off, Variety has a report that Jamie Foxx is in negotiations to play the President that Tatum is going to be protecting. Barring the casting of Barack Obama himself, Foxx is about the most charismatic man I can think of who could be put into the role of a movie President and pull it off believably, so that’s promising news right there.

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After taking a break to get back into romance (The Vow, Dear John) and comedy (21 Jump Street), Channing Tatum looks to be jumping back into some meat and potatoes work. No, no, the former dancer isn’t hitting up another Step Up film (and, oh, that he were), he’s currently in “advanced talks” (sorry, intermediate or beginner talks) for the lead role in White House Down. The Roland Emmerich-directed film has long been described as “Die Hard in the White House,” and– no, no, wait, just stop there. That’s all we need to know: Roland Emmerich might direct Channing Tatum in a Die Hard in the White House. I am not entirely sure what you people need for some headache-inducing popcorn cinema, but this fits the bill for me with a goddamn bullet. Variety reports that the actor will likely join the James Vanderbilt-scripted actioner, which would see him starring as a secret service agent who gets tasked with saving the President of the United States after the White House is struck down by an attack. Sony will reportedly next look to cast the President and the head of the Secret Service. Sony, I beg of you, go to Bill Pullman for the Prez gig. Please. We will next see Tatum in Magic Mike, G.I. Joe: More Retaliated Than Ever, The Bitter Pill, and Foxcatcher.

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Just last week, we were hit with the cataclysmic news that Roland Emmerich was likely to return to one of his favorite cinematic pastimes – blowing the White House the eff up – in the new, amusingly titled film White House Down. Turns out, that wasn’t the only script with a vendetta against 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. bouncing around Hollywood, and Emmerich, scribe Jamie Vanderbilt, and Columbia are just going to have to man up and deal with some similar competition. THR reports that director Antoine Fuqua currently has an offer to direct Nu Image/Millennium’s Olympus Has Fallen, an action thriller that the outlet is billing as “Die Hard in the White House.” Make this film now. The film’s script was penned by newbie scribes Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt, who sold it to Millennium about a month ago. The film centers on “an unlikely Secret Service agent” (aren’t they always) who is the only man standing in the way of terrorists who have seized the Presidential residence and workspace. White House Down also centers on a White House takeover, but which film will emerge victorious?

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After 16 years of bad blood between Roland Emmerich and the building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the man and the large inanimate object might be reconciling their differences. Emmerich famously blew the White House up in Independence Day, but he’s looking to protect it at all costs for White House Down. According to Deadline, the action drama which was sold as Die Hard-like to Sony was written by James Vanderbilt (Zodiac, The Losers, The Amazing Spider-Man, Total Recall). The story focuses on a paramilitary take down of the Presidential residence and workspace, which seems exactly as high concept as Emmerich can stand. Although since it seems like the action would be confined to a singular space, wouldn’t The Raid‘s Gareth Evans be a much cooler choice here? The big question here is where this fits in his directing timeline. Granted, he hasn’t signed on yet, but there are theoretically two Independence Day  sequels in the works as well as the Asteroids adaptation. It seems likely that with the $3m Sony paid for this spec, and with the money that Emmerich can command, it seems clear that the studio is making a big move here so have some popcorn ready.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr puts on some 3D glasses to look at some puss… in boots, that is. He proceeds to rewrite fairy tale fiction to include more bodily function humor, an egg-shaped Zach Galifianakis and a hairy but still sexy Salma Hayek. Then, he heads to the reference department of his local library to discover who really wrote the complete works of William Shakespeare. When all signs point to Neil Miller as the real author, Kevin gives up, realizing he’s out of time. So he brings sexy back and heads out to kidnap Amanda Seyfried so he can occupy Hollywood and start a revolution together… or get arrested.

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Back in 1996, a little movie about Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum saving the world from aliens was a gigantic success. It was called Independence Day, it showed the White House getting blown up, and it raked in about $800m in worldwide sales. I don’t have any numbers in front of me to prove this next statement, but let me shuffle some papers around on my desk to pretend like I have them somewhere and then just say it: Independence Day is one of the biggest box office successes of the last 20 years to not get a sequel. In a society where everyone is always asking for more, it’s crazy that we’ve only seen Smith punch an alien once. And that’s not just me talking, Fox thinks it’s crazy too. That’s why, since back in 2009, they’ve been doing everything they can to get back-to-back Independence Day sequels off the ground. The holdup has been money issues. First, director Roland Emmerich wanted an undisclosed, but very hefty sum of money to come back and blow up some more famous landmarks. And then star Will Smith was reportedly asking for $50mto come on board the lengthy shoot. Spending that much money just to get two men attached to a project would be pretty asinine, so things had stalled out on the Independence Day sequels front, until very recently. Vulture is reporting that an inside source has let them know that the finishing touches are being put on the scripts for […]

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The L.A. Times is reporting that Roland Emmerich’s latest film, Anonymous, set to open in theaters on October 28th, isn’t going to be playing on as many screens as originally planned. The film was at first slated to get a full-on wide release on thousands of screens, but after some pre-release polling showed that nobody really wants to go see this thing, Sony Pictures has decided to scale back the number of screens it will be showing on to 250. The public seems to really love Roland Emmerich, so I can only imagine the lack of interest in the film comes from the fact that it’s about Shakespeare and not New York City blowing up. Sony hasn’t lost all hope for the project’s success, though, as their distribution president Rory Bruer said of the move, “We love the picture and think it’s going to get great word of mouth. We’re committed to expanding it until it plays wide.” The plan is to open the movie in the biggest markets, trick people into forgetting how much they hated reading Shakespeare in high school with movie magic, and then open in the ‘burbs sometime in November after everybody has heard about how much this movie rules and how badly they need to go see it for a couple weeks. That’s a pretty ambitious plan. This better be a damn good movie.

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Culture Warrior

For the past few weeks, cinephiles, journalists, and critics have been grappling with the notion of what ‘post-9/11 cinema’ is, has been, will be, and/or looks like. What they’ve come up with are a group of wildly different, potentially specious, but ultimately quite fascinating explorations on the relationship between art, commerce, and life – and by ‘life’ I mean, in this case, that rare type of event whose effect takes on an enduringly profound, universally personal, omnipresent ripple. The overwhelming conclusion that most of these observations end with is, rather appropriately and naturally, “I don’t know, but here are some thoughts.” Besides those works of audiovisual media that were directly inspired by, intentionally referenced, or somehow directly related to 9/11, it’s difficult to say exactly what a post-9/11 film is unless one allows for literally every film made afterward to potentially enter such a category. But perhaps we’ve been asking the wrong question.

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