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Did Independence Day: Resurgence Overestimate Moviegoer Nostalgia?

June 25, 2016 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

Independence Day: Resurgence arrived at the box office with $4 million on Thursday night and has been forecast to finish with an opening weekend of $50 million. For those keeping score, that’s well behind the second weekend of Finding Dory, which is looking to make around $70 million following its record for an animated film debut at $135.1 million.

The original Independence Day, starring Will Smith, was a huge success, two decades ago. It opened with a massive $50 million domestically on its way to a $306 million U.S. total and $817 million worldwide. Those were huge numbers back then.

So what happened this time?

Everyone reading this should have a good idea of the what the first one was about. Alien invasion, Earth gets beat up, fights back to no avail, big speech, download a virus into the alien mothership, Earth gets the advantage, and audiences cheered. Independence Day: Resurgence has the aliens returning to destroy Earth and its inhabitants, with everyone coming together to fight back. Resurgence has Roland Emmerich returning to the director’s seat and a $165 million budget. He brought back original cast, outside of Will Smith, of Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman, and added newcomers such as Liam Hemsworth.

A sequel to Independence Day has been discussed since the first one came out. Back in 2004, the film’s producer and writer, Dean Devlin was said to be working on the script with Emmerich but in May of that year, the director said he and Devlin had attempted to “figure out a way how to continue the story”, but that this ultimately did not work, and the pair abandoned the idea. Then in October 2009, Emmerich came out saying they were trying again and going to make a trilogy of the who thing. Nothing happened until 2011 and Devlin did an interview where he said that he and Emmerich had found an idea for the sequels and have written a treatment. Except it would be with Will Smith, thanks to his $50 million salary demand for the two sequels. Fast forward a little more to March 2013, and Emmerich announced that the titles of the new films would be ID Forever Part I and ID Forever Part II.

As fans read the updates about the sequels, you could see the anticipation level steadily go down for the new movie. It felt like the moment had passed and so had the nostalgic factor for audiences.

It’s been two decades since the first Independence Day invaded theaters, blowing up famous landmarks. It’s natural for audiences to be excited for more and studios are banking that there is enough goodwill around these franchises to make sequels, reboots, and re-imaginings. When they see numbers like Jurassic World pulled in last summer, it only makes them more gung-ho to rush these projects into production.

Now we have Independence Day: Resurgence in theaters and Ghostbusters not far behind. Nostalgia can be a funny thing. Used sparingly, movies that we loved as kids, but are really horrible, can remain that way in our memories. But when studios go overboard, it can make you over analyze and those execs don’t want that. They want their blockbusters to be as loud and fast as possible.

Looking at Independence Day: Resurgence, too many stop-start announcements hurt it. If this came out within 5 or even 10 years after the original, I can safely say it would have been a massive hit and we might be getting a remake instead of a sequel right now. Plus, disaster porn movies have come a long way since 1996. Audiences have just about seen it all. Nostalgia won’t help this movie very much. I’m not sure it will help Ghostbusters either.

How much does nostalgia factor in when you are seeing a remake or sequel? Little? Mucho? Let us know below!