Roland Emmerich on Obliterating the White House in 'Independence Day'

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Independence Day: Resurgence may not have lit up the domestic box-office this weekend — tallying a rather ho-hum $41 million — but it wasn’t for lack of trying to match its predecessor’s giddy destruction of global landmarks. In a new video from Variety featuring director Roland Emmerich, the man behind those on-screen explosions discusses the origins of that storytelling signature, which began with the original ID4’s obliteration of the commander-in-chief’s home.

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Emmerich addresses “this whole blowing-up business,” which he says was a natural extension of his love of ’70s disaster movies. Those served as inspiration for 1996’s Independence Day, in which the planet is attacked by unfriendly visitors from another world. When trying to figure out which famous attractions would be best to detonate, he says the Capitol was considered, but the mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave in Washington, D.C. stood out to him as the most “iconic” and “famous” target.

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While he insists that “I’m not blowing up just stuff to blow them up. There’s always a story point to it,” his subsequent, lighthearted admission that “it has to be the White House” makes it clear he was looking for the ultimate “Wow” visual. Left unsaid is that it’s difficult to top such an annihilation sequence —and we wonder if maybe that’s part of the reason Independence Day: Resurgence didn’t catch fire with audiences the way its predecessor did 20 years ago?

Watch Roland Emmerich discuss what made ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ possible: