Roland Emmerich (Template:IPA-de; born November 10, 1955) is a German film director, screenwriter, and producer, widely known for his disaster films. His films, most of which are English-language Hollywood productions, have made more than $3 billion worldwide, including just over $1 billion in the United States, making him the country's 11th-highest-grossing director of all time.[1][2] He began his work in the film industry by directing the film The Noah's Ark Principle (1984) as part of his university thesis and also co-founded Centropolis Entertainment in 1985 with his sister. He is a collector of art and an active campaigner for the LGBT community, and is openly gay.[3] He is also a campaigner for awareness of global warming and human rights.

Early life and career

Emmerich was born in Stuttgart, West Germany, and grew up in the nearby town of Sindelfingen.[4] As a youth, he traveled extensively throughout Europe and North America on vacations financed by his father, Hans, the wealthy founder of a garden machinery production company.[5] In 1977, he began attending University of Television and Film Munich with the intention of studying to become a production designer.[5][6] After watching Star Wars, he instead decided to enroll in the school's film director program.[5][7] Required to create a short film as his final thesis in 1981, he wrote and directed the full-length feature The Noah's Ark Principle, which was screened as the opening film of the 34th Berlin International Film Festival in 1984.[6]

In 1985, he founded Centropolis Film Productions (now Centropolis Entertainment) in partnership with his sister, producer Ute Emmerich, and directed his major film debut, a fantasy feature named Joey.[5] He subsequently directed the 1987 comedy Hollywood-Monster and the 1990 science-fiction film Moon 44. Theatrically, these were only released in and nearby his native country, although Emmerich filmed them in English and went against conventional German styles in an attempt to appeal to a larger market.[5][8] This subsequently resulted in Moon 44 being released direct-to-video in the U.S. in early 1991. Joey and Hollywood-Monster eventually also saw home video releases in the U.S. (as Making Contact and Ghost Chase, respectively) once Emmerich achieved more prominence in America.

Hollywood director


Producer Mario Kassar invited Emmerich to come to the United States to direct a futuristic action film entitled Isobar.[9] Dean Devlin, who appeared in Moon 44, soon joined Emmerich as his writing and producing partner, and served in this capacity until 2000.[8] Emmerich subsequently refused the offer to direct after producers rejected Devlin's re-write of the script, and the Isobar project was eventually scrapped.[9] Instead, Emmerich was hired to replace director Andrew Davis for the action movie Universal Soldier. The film was released in 1992, and has since been followed by two direct-to-video sequels, a theatrical sequel, and another sequel released in 2010.

Emmerich next helmed the 1994 science-fiction film Stargate. At the time, it set a record for the highest-grossing opening weekend for a film released in the month of October.[10] It became more commercially successful than most film industry insiders had anticipated,[8][11] and spawned a highly popular media franchise.

Emmerich then directed Independence Day, an alien invasion feature, released in 1996, that became the first film to gross $100 million in less than a week[12][13] and went on to become one of the most financially successful films of all time,[14] at one point having been the second-highest-grossing film in terms of worldwide box office.[15] Emmerich and Devlin then created the television series The Visitor, which aired on the Fox Network during 1997–1998 before being cancelled after one season.

His next film, Godzilla, opened in 1998. An extensive advertising and marketing campaign generated significant hype during the months leading up to the film's release. The film was a box office success but was met with negative reviews from critics and fans. It garnered a Saturn Award for Best Special Effects, a BMI Film Music Award, and the Audience Award for Best Director at the European Film Awards while also receiving a Razzie Award for Worst Remake or Sequel. It has only a 16% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[16]


Taking a short break from science-fiction, Emmerich next directed the American Revolutionary War epic The Patriot (2000). One of only four films (Universal Soldier, Anonymous and White House Down being the others) Emmerich has directed in which he did not contribute to the screenplay, the film received generally favorable critical and commercial response,[17] and is Emmerich's best-reviewed film to date.[18][19] After teaming up with new screenwriting partner Harald Kloser, Emmerich returned once again to directing a visual effects-laden adventure with 2004's blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow, another disaster film about a rapidly oncoming ice age brought upon by the effects of global warming. Soon afterward, he founded Reelmachine, another film production company based in Germany.

In 2008, Emmerich directed 10,000 BC, a film about the journeys of a prehistoric tribe of mammoth hunters. It was a box office hit, but consistently regarded by professional critics as his worst film, as well as one of the worst films of the year.[20] He was slated to direct a remake of the 1966 science-fiction film Fantastic Voyage,[21] but the project slipped back into development hell. In 2009, Emmerich directed 2012,[22] an apocalyptic disaster film based on the conspiracy theory that the ancient Mayans prophesied the world's ending on December 21, 2012.[23] Despite mixed reviews, the film went on to be his second-highest-grossing film to date (after Independence Day) and received praise from audiences. Emmerich usually finishes production of a large-scale movie both in a time frame shorter and on a budget lower than what is typically requested by other directors.[6][8]


Emmerich's next film, Anonymous, released on 28 October 2011, is based on the premise that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford is the real author of the plays and sonnets of William Shakespeare.[24] According to Emmerich, "It's an historical thriller because it's about who will succeed Queen Elizabeth and the struggle of the people who want to have a hand in it. It's the Tudors on one side and the Cecils on the other, and in between [the two] is the Queen. Through that story we tell how the plays written by the Earl of Oxford ended up labelled 'William Shakespeare.'"[25] The release date for Anonymous coincided with the completion of the 13th Baktun, the date which marks the empirical base for Emmerich's film 2012, as this is celebrated by the surviving indigenous Maya, specifically the Quiché people.Template:Or inline

Emmerich directed the action-thriller film White House Down, which involved an assault on the White House by a paramilitary group. The spec script was written by James Vanderbilt and was purchased by Sony Pictures for $3 million in March 2012. The Hollywood Reporter called it "one of the biggest spec sales in quite a while". The journal said the script was similar "tonally and thematically" to the films Die Hard, Air Force One and Olympus Has Fallen (2013). Emmerich began filming in July 2012 at the La Cité Du Cinéma in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The film was released on June 28, 2013 in the United States. Emmerich's most recent film, Independence Day: Resurgence, the sequel to Independence Day, was released on June 24, 2016.

Personal life and advocacy

Emmerich owns homes in Los Angeles, New York City, London and Stuttgart.[5][26][27][28][29] He likes to decorate his homes in a self-described "outlandish" manner,[29] adorning them with rare Hollywood memorabilia, murals and portraits of dictators and Communist figures, and World War II militaria.[5][28]

Emmerich's extensive collection of artwork includes a painting of Jesus Christ wearing a Katharine Hamnett-styled T-shirt during his crucifixion,[29] prints of Alison Jackson's works of a Princess Diana lookalike making obscene gestures and engaging in sex acts,[27][30] a wax sculpture of Pope John Paul II laughing as he reads his own obituary,[27][30] and a Photoshopped image of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a homoerotic pose.[29] Emmerich, who is openly gay,[3] and a financial supporter of U.S. progressive politics,[31] states that the decorations and pieces are not declarations of any beliefs,[29] but rather reflections of his "predilection for art with a political edge".[30]

Emmerich has claimed that he witnessed overt racism when producers and studio executives were opposed to allowing him to cast Will Smith for the lead in Independence Day, and reluctant to allow him to portray an interracial couple in The Day After Tomorrow.[32] He has also claimed that he has encountered homophobia from the same groups, and is vocal in his opposition of such behavior.[32] He has stated that sometimes he does "[not like working in] the movie business", describing it as a sometimes "very cold, brutal business", but his motivation to keep directing is that he genuinely "like[s] making movies".[5]

In 2006, he pledged $150,000 to the Legacy Project, a campaign dedicated to gay and lesbian film preservation. Emmerich made the donation on behalf of Outfest, making it the largest gift in the festival's history.[33] In 2007, on behalf of the LGBT community, he held a fundraiser at his Los Angeles home for Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.[28]

Emmerich is in favor of the campaign for stunt performers to receive recognition at the Academy Awards, and has worked to raise awareness over the issue of global warming.[34][35] He once was a chain-smoker who was known to smoke as many as four packs of cigarettes a day,[36] Emmerich has often included in his films characters who are trying to quit smoking or warn against the dangers of tobacco use. Along with several other celebrities, he is a producer of The 1 Second Film, a non-profit project intended to raise money for women's rights in the developing world.[37]

Emmerich is married to Omar De Soto.


In addition to film,[38] Emmerich also co-created and produced the short-lived television series The Visitor, and, in 2001, directed a one-minute commercial entitled "Infinite Possibilities" for DaimlerChrysler.[39]


Year(s) Title Director Producer Writer Notes
1979 Franzmann Yes Yes
Wilde Witwe Yes Short
1984 The Noah's Ark Principle Yes Yes Yes Credited as Co-producer
1985 Joey Yes Yes
1987 Hollywood-Monster Yes Yes
1990 Moon 44 Yes Yes Template:Partial
1991 Eye of the Storm executive
1992 Universal Soldier Yes
1994 The High Crusade Yes
Stargate Yes Yes
1996 Independence Day Yes executive Yes
1998 Godzilla Yes executive Yes
1999 The Thirteenth Floor Yes
2000 The Patriot Yes executive
2002 Eight Legged Freaks executive
2004 The Day After Tomorrow Yes Yes Yes
2007 Trade Yes
2008 10,000 BC Yes Yes Yes
2009 2012 Yes executive Yes
2011 Anonymous Yes Yes
Hell executive
2012 Last Will & Testament executive Documentary
2013 White House Down Yes Yes
2015 Stonewall Yes Yes [40][41]
2016 Independence Day: Resurgence Yes Yes Yes
2019 Midway Yes Yes Post-production


Year(s) Title Director Producer Writer Notes
1980 Altosax Yes TV movie
1997–98 The Visitor Yes Yes Credited as Executive Producer
1998–2000 Godzilla: The Series Yes Credited as Executive Producer
2012 Dark Horse Yes Yes Yes TV movie; Credited as Executive Producer

Critical reception

Reviewers often criticize Emmerich's films for relying heavily on visual effects and suffering from clichéd dialogue, flimsy and formulaic narratives, numerous scientific and historical inaccuracies, illogical plot developments, and lack of character depth.[42][43][44] Emmerich contends that he is not discouraged by such criticism and that he aims to provide enjoyable "popcorn" entertainment to movie-going audiences.[34] Stating that he is "a filmmaker, not a scientist", he creates his own fiction based on actual science or history to make the messages he sends "more exciting".[45]

In response to accusations of insensitivity for including scenes of New York City being destroyed in The Day After Tomorrow, less than three years after the September 11 attacks, Emmerich said that it was necessary to depict the event as a means to showcase the increased unity people now have when facing a disaster, because of 9/11.[26][34][45] When accused of resorting too often to scenes of cities being subjected to epic disasters, Emmerich says that it is a justified way of increasing awareness about both global warming, and the lack of a government preparation plan for a global doomsday scenario in the cases of The Day After Tomorrow and 2012, respectively.[45][46]

Acknowledging what he was told were flaws with Godzilla, Emmerich admitted he regretted having agreed to direct it. He stated that his lack of interest in the previous Godzilla movies, the short time he promised it would take for him to complete the film, and the studio's refusal to screen it for test audiences were all factors that may have negatively affected the quality of the final product,[26] and cited the former reason as to why he turned down an offer to direct Spider-Man as he could not imagine himself as getting enthusiastic about the project because he was never intrigued by comic books and superhero-related fiction.[26] However, Emmerich still defends Godzilla, noting that the film was highly profitable[26] and claiming that, of all his movies, people tell him Godzilla is the one they and their kids watch the most repeatedly.[45]

Emmerich has also faced criticism from the LGBT community. His film Stonewall was criticized for being whitewashed and diminishing the contributions of transgender women of color to starting the Stonewall Riots,[47] and for being sex-negative.[48] In response to these claims, Emmerich has said the Stonewall riots were "a white event".[49] The film received generally negative reviews from critics.[50]Template:Failed verification

Similarly, his 2016 film Independence Day: Resurgence was touted as having a gay couple,[51] but when the film came out, it was accused[52] of engaging in homophobia as LGBT characters are killed off for the benefit of the straight protagonists and audience.[53]

Year Film Rotten Tomatoes[54] Metacritic[55]
1992 Universal Soldier 25% 35/100
1994 Stargate 48% 42/100
1996 Independence Day 64% 59/100
1998 Godzilla 16% 32/100
2000 The Patriot 61% 63/100
2004 The Day After Tomorrow 44% 47/100
2008 10,000 BC 8% 34/100
2009 2012 40% 49/100
2011 Anonymous 46% 50/100
2013 White House Down 50% 52/100
2015 Stonewall 10% 30/100
2016 Independence Day: Resurgence 30% 32/100

Awards and nominations

YearTemplate:Efn Nominated work Category Result
Golden Raspberry Awards
1997 Independence Day Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million Template:Nom
1999 Godzilla Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel Template:Won
Worst Director Template:Nom
Worst Picture Template:Nom
Worst Screenplay Template:Nom
2017 Independence Day: Resurgence Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel Template:Nom
Worst Director Template:Nom
Worst Picture Template:Nom
Worst Screenplay Template:Nom
Hugo Awards
1997 Independence Day Best Dramatic Presentation Template:Nom
Kids' Choice Award
1997 Independence Day Favorite Movie Template:Won
MTV Movie Awards
1997 Independence Day Best Movie Template:Nom
People's Choice Awards
1997 Independence Day Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture Template:Won
Saturn Awards
1997 Independence Day Best Director Template:Won
1999 Godzilla Best Director Template:Nom
Best Fantasy Film Template:Nom
2005 The Day After Tomorrow Best Science Fiction Film Template:Nom
2010 2012 Best Action or Adventure Film Template:Nom
2017 Independence Day: Resurgence Best Science Fiction Film Template:Nom
Universe Reader's Choice Award
1996 Independence Day Best Director Template:Won





  1. Roland Emmerich. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on February 6, 2017.
  2. Roland Emmerich. Retrieved on February 6, 2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Couch, Aaron. "Roland Emmerich: Independence Day 2 to Feature Gay Character", The Hollywood Reporter, June 25, 2013. Retrieved on January 23, 2014. 
  4. Rebecca Ascher-Walsh. "Space Under Fire", Entertainment Weekly, August 22, 1995. Retrieved on July 8, 2008. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 Hilary Whiteman. "Roland Emmerich, the accidental director openly gay", March 7, 2008. Retrieved on March 16, 2009. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Hilary Whiteman. "Roland Emmerich: Making it big", March 10, 2008. Retrieved on March 16, 2009. 
  7. The Force Is With Them: The Legacy of Star Wars Star Wars Original Trilogy DVD Box Set: Bonus Materials, [2004]
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Richard Corliss. "The Invasion Has Begun", July 8, 1996. Retrieved on July 8, 2008. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Patrick Lee, Maria Virobik. "Devlin's Isobar Moves Forward", Sci Fi Wire, July 21, 2006. Retrieved on July 8, 2008. Archived from the original on September 3, 2007. 
  10. Top Opening WEeekends by Month. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on March 16, 2009.
  11. Rebecca Ascher-Walsh. "Space Under Fire", Entertainment Weekly, July 28, 1995. Retrieved on July 8, 2008. 
  12. A.J. Jacobs. "The Day After", Entertainment Weekly, July 19, 1996. Retrieved on July 8, 2008. 
  13. Film History of the 1990s Retrieved on July 8, 2008.
  14. "Independence Day." Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on July 8, 2008.
  15. "William Fay Bio." Template:Webarchive Retrieved on March 4, 2008.
  16. Godzilla (1998). [review]. Rotten Tomatoes. Accessed 7 June 2012.
  17. The Patriot. Metacritic. Retrieved on March 16, 2009.
  18. Roland Emmerich (search results). Metacritic. Retrieved on March 16, 2009.
  19. Roland Emmerich. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on March 16, 2009.
  20. Tomato Picker 2008 films with <10% "fresh" ratings. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on March 16, 2009.
  21. Fleming, Michael. "Emmerich to captain 'Voyage'", August 15, 2007. Retrieved on August 15, 2007. 
  22. Fleming, Michael. "Sony buys Emmerich's '2012'", February 21, 2008. Retrieved on February 21, 2008. Archived from the original on September 29, 2008. 
  23. Pawlowski, Agnes (January 27, 2009). "Apocalypse in 2012? Date spawns theories, film". Retrieved on February 5, 2009. 
  24. Coming Attractions
  25. de Semlyen, Phil. "Roland Emmerich's Next Is 'Anonymous' About Shakespeare", Empire Online, Bauer Consumer Media, February 25, 2010. Retrieved on May 12, 2010. 
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 Daniel Robert Epstein. "Roland Emmerich of The Day After Tomorrow (20th Century Fox) Interview", UGO. Retrieved on March 16, 2009. Archived from the original on January 7, 2009. 
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 "BRILLIANT OR BAD TASTE? Director Roland Emmerich's Knightsbridge Townhouse", Cottage Industries, September 5, 2008. Retrieved on March 16, 2009. 
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 LGBT hold fundraiser for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton at Roland Emmerich's Hollywood Home. 4seasons Photography (July 22, 2007). Retrieved on February 21, 2008.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.3 29.4 Kathryn Harris. "There's no manifesto", The Guardian, October 25, 2008. Retrieved on March 16, 2009. 
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 Hruska, Rachelle J.. "Roland Emmerich's Far From Conservative Style", Guest of a Guest, October 7, 2008. Retrieved on March 16, 2009. 
  31. "FUNDRACE 2008", The Huffington Post. Retrieved on March 16, 2009. Archived from the original on October 2, 2011. 
  32. 32.0 32.1 The Day After Tomorrow Director/Producer DVD Commentary (2004)
  33. "Hollywood director helps save gay and lesbian films", The Advocate, January 25, 2006. Retrieved on March 28, 2007. 
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 Thomas Chau. "INTERVIEW: Director Roland Emmerich on "The Day After Tomorrow"", Cinema Confidential, May 27, 2004. Retrieved on March 16, 2009. 
  35. An interview with Roland Emmerich. (May 1, 2004). Retrieved on February 21, 2008.
  36. Rebecca Ascher-Walsh. "Space Under Fire", Entertainment Weekly, July 12, 1996. Retrieved on July 8, 2008. 
  37. Roland Emmerich. The 1 Second Film. Retrieved on February 21, 2008.
  38. Template:AllMovie name
  39. Infinite Possibilities. Retrieved on August 10, 2007.
  41. John R. Kennedy. "Roland Emmerich to direct ‘Stonewall’ in Montreal", March 31, 2014. Retrieved on May 23, 2017. 
  42. The Day After Tomorrow (2004). Retrieved on March 16, 2009.
  43. The Patriot (2000). Retrieved on March 16, 2009.
  44. 10,000 BC (2008). Retrieved on March 16, 2009.
  45. 45.0 45.1 45.2 45.3 Todd Gilchrist. "The Day After Tomorrow: An Interview with Roland Emmerich",, May 2004. Retrieved on March 16, 2009. 
  46. Alex Billington. "Roland Emmerich (Almost) Explains What Happens in 2012",, March 3, 2008. Retrieved on March 16, 2009. 
  47. UPDATED: Roland Emmerich's 'Stonewall' Has A White/Cis Hero, And That's A Problem | Unicorn Booty (August 6, 2015). Retrieved on June 29, 2016.
  48. 5 Problems Besides Whitewashing in the Film "Stonewall" | Unicorn Booty (September 28, 2015). Retrieved on June 29, 2016.
  49. Roland Emmerich: ‘I like to say I was driven out of Germany by the critics’ (June 18, 2016). Retrieved on June 29, 2016.
  50. Roland Emmerich’s Stonewall Fails on Almost Every Level. Retrieved on June 29, 2016.
  51. Roland Emmerich on 'Independence Day 2's' Gay Couple: It's Not "a Big Deal". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved on 29 June 2016.
  52. The Gay Couple In Independence Day: Resurgence Don't Get Their Due | Unicorn Booty (June 24, 2016). Retrieved on June 29, 2016.
  53. Bury Your Gays: Why 'The 100,' 'Walking Dead' Deaths Are Problematic (Guest Column). The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved on 29 June 2016.
  54. Roland Emmerich Filmography's Tomatometer. Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved on September 1, 2016.
  55. Roland Emmerich Profile's Metascore. Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved on September 1, 2016.

External links