We’re still a bit a ways away from what will likely be a socially distanced Independence Day, but here’s some new trivia about the movie that shares its name. Did you know the game-changing 1996 summer blockbuster Independence Day wasn’t always called that? That it had a much more generic name that might have not made it as big as it proved to be? Well, according to one of its main stars, Bill Pullman, that’s the case.
In a new interview with CinemaBlend, as found by ComicBook.com, the actor opened up about one of the most popular titles on his CV, revealing that it was once called — [drum roll] — Doomsday. It’s not a bad title, but it is kind of all-purpose. The reason? Another studio owned the rights to that title, thanks to a film from 1983 also called Independence Day (which is a character study set in a small town, not a spectacle about a mass alien invasion). However, director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin really wanted to call the film Independence Day — the production’s code name was even “ID4” — but 20th Century Fox was loath to let them…until they saw Pullman’s classic rally-the-troops speech.
About the original title, Pullman said, “It’s what Fox wanted, and it was a title that was typical of the time [for a] disaster movie.” But Emmerich and Devlin persisted.
“They really wanted Independence Day, so we had to make the speech really good. And then they cut it together, and a couple of nights later, Dean came to my trailer, and he said, ‘Do you wanna see it’? … So he popped in the VHS, he showed me the cut of the speech, and I went, ‘Holy Mother, they have got to name this movie Independence Day.’ And they did.”
And there you have it. There is no doubt that patriotically naming the film after the holiday — and then releasing it over that holiday, 24 years ago — helped stir extra-excitement, and helped create what became first the roided-up summer movie season, and then what was essentially a year-round summer movie season, filled with one blockbuster after another. Maybe those days will return soon once movie theaters are a thing again. Until then, all we have is that wacko doctored version that surreally splices Trump and his cronies into a scene where the sitting president delivers an articulate speech that unites the nation gripped by fear. Only at the movies!