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Roland Emmerich (German: [ˈʁoːlant ˈɛməʁɪç]; 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]

Roland Emmerich
Independence Day- Resurgence Japan Premiere- Roland Emmerich (28502013341) CROPPED.jpg
Emmerich in 2016
Born (1955-11-10) November 10, 1955 (age 63)
Alma materUniversity of Television and Film Munich
  • Film director
  • producer
  • screenwriter
Years active1979–present
Spouse(s)Omar De Soto (m. 2017)
Signature of Roland Emmerich.svg

Early life and careerEdit

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 directorEdit


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 a 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.[original research?]

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 advocacyEdit

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 Title Director Producer Writer Notes
1979 Franzmann Yes No Yes
Wilde Witwe Yes No No Short film
1984 The Noah's Ark Principle Yes Yes Yes Credited as Co-producer
1985 Joey Yes No Yes
1987 Hollywood-Monster Yes No Yes
1990 Moon 44 Yes Yes Story
1992 Universal Soldier Yes No No
1994 Stargate Yes No Yes
1996 Independence Day Yes executive Yes
1998 Godzilla Yes executive Yes
2000 The Patriot Yes executive No
2004 The Day After Tomorrow Yes Yes Yes
2008 10,000 BC Yes Yes Yes
2009 2012 Yes executive Yes
2011 Anonymous Yes Yes No
2013 White House Down Yes Yes No
2015 Stonewall Yes Yes No [40][41]
2016 Independence Day: Resurgence Yes Yes Yes
2019 Midway Yes Yes No Post-production

Producer only

Year Title Notes
1991 Eye of the Storm Executive producer
1994 The High Crusade
1999 The Thirteenth Floor
2002 Eight Legged Freaks Executive producer
2007 Trade
2011 Hell Executive producer
2012 Last Will & Testament Documentary;
Executive producer


Year(s) Title Director Executive
Writer Notes
1980 Altosax No No Yes TV movie
1997–1998 The Visitor No Yes Yes
1998–2000 Godzilla: The Series No Yes No
2012 Dark Horse Yes Yes Yes TV movie

Critical receptionEdit

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][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 nominationsEdit



  1. ^ Year in which awards ceremony was held


  1. ^ "Roland Emmerich". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on April 11, 2016. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
  2. ^ "Roland Emmerich". The Numbers. Archived from the original on April 11, 2016. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Couch, Aaron (June 25, 2013). "Roland Emmerich: Independence Day 2 to Feature Gay Character". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on March 15, 2014. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
  4. ^ Rebecca Ascher-Walsh (August 22, 1995). "Space Under Fire". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on August 16, 2011. Retrieved July 8, 2008.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Hilary Whiteman (March 7, 2008). "Roland Emmerich, the accidental director openly gay". CNN. Archived from the original on March 6, 2009. Retrieved March 16, 2009.
  6. ^ a b c Hilary Whiteman (March 10, 2008). "Roland Emmerich: Making it big". CNN. Archived from the original on March 6, 2009. Retrieved March 16, 2009.
  7. ^ The Force Is With Them: The Legacy of Star Wars Star Wars Original Trilogy DVD Box Set: Bonus Materials, [2004]
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  9. ^ a b Patrick Lee, Maria Virobik (July 21, 2006). "Devlin's Isobar Moves Forward". Sci Fi Wire. Archived from the original on September 3, 2007. Retrieved July 8, 2008.
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  12. ^ A.J. Jacobs (July 19, 1996). "The Day After". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on October 17, 2013. Retrieved July 8, 2008.
  13. ^ Film History of the 1990s Archived 2017-01-07 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on July 8, 2008.
  14. ^ "Independence Day." Archived 2016-09-23 at the Wayback Machine Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on July 8, 2008.
  15. ^ "William Fay Bio." Archived 2012-02-18 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on March 4, 2008.
  16. ^ Godzilla (1998). [review]. Rotten Tomatoes. Archived 2007-01-16 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 7 June 2012.
  17. ^ "The Patriot". Metacritic. Retrieved March 16, 2009.
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  19. ^ "Roland Emmerich". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on June 18, 2010. Retrieved March 16, 2009.
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  23. ^ Pawlowski, Agnes (January 27, 2009). "Apocalypse in 2012? Date spawns theories, film". CNN. Archived from the original on February 1, 2009. Retrieved February 5, 2009. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  24. ^ "October 9, 2009 - Anonymous / Roland Emmerich talks about his next project - Corona Coming Attractions". Archived from the original on November 25, 2010. Retrieved November 23, 2009.
  25. ^ de Semlyen, Phil (February 25, 2010). "Roland Emmerich's Next Is 'Anonymous' About Shakespeare". Empire Online. Bauer Consumer Media. Archived from the original on August 14, 2011. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
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  27. ^ a b c "BRILLIANT OR BAD TASTE? Director Roland Emmerich's Knightsbridge Townhouse". Cottage Industries. September 5, 2008. Archived from the original on February 5, 2017. Retrieved March 16, 2009.
  28. ^ a b c "LGBT hold fundraiser for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton at Roland Emmerich's Hollywood Home". 4seasons Photography. July 22, 2007. Archived from the original on March 13, 2008. Retrieved February 21, 2008.
  29. ^ a b c d e Kathryn Harris (October 25, 2008). "There's no manifesto". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on October 17, 2013. Retrieved March 16, 2009.
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  34. ^ a b c Thomas Chau (May 27, 2004). "INTERVIEW: Director Roland Emmerich on "The Day After Tomorrow"". Cinema Confidential. Archived from the original on June 6, 2004. Retrieved March 16, 2009.
  35. ^ "An interview with Roland Emmerich". May 1, 2004. Archived from the original on March 6, 2008. Retrieved February 21, 2008.
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  37. ^ "Roland Emmerich". The 1 Second Film. Archived from the original on August 25, 2009. Retrieved February 21, 2008.
  38. ^ Roland Emmerich filmography at AllMovie
  39. ^ "Infinite Possibilities". Archived from the original on May 31, 2008. Retrieved August 10, 2007.
  40. ^
  41. ^ John R. Kennedy (March 31, 2014). "Roland Emmerich to direct 'Stonewall' in Montreal". Archived from the original on November 7, 2017. Retrieved May 23, 2017.
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  47. ^ Keeley, Matt (August 6, 2015). "UPDATED: Roland Emmerich's 'Stonewall' Has A White/Cis Hero, And That's A Problem | Unicorn Booty". Unicorn Booty. Archived from the original on May 12, 2016. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  48. ^ Villarreal, Daniel (September 28, 2015). "5 Problems Besides Whitewashing in the Film "Stonewall" | Unicorn Booty". Unicorn Booty. Archived from the original on August 17, 2016. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
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  50. ^ Eberi, Bilge. "Roland Emmerich's Stonewall Fails on Almost Every Level". Vulture. Archived from the original on February 6, 2016. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  51. ^ Gardner, Chris. "Roland Emmerich on 'Independence Day 2's' Gay Couple: It's Not "a Big Deal"". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 11 October 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  52. ^ Gayzmonic, Johnny (June 24, 2016). "The Gay Couple In Independence Day: Resurgence Don't Get Their Due | Unicorn Booty". Unicorn Booty. Archived from the original on June 25, 2016. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  53. ^ "Bury Your Gays: Why 'The 100,' 'Walking Dead' Deaths Are Problematic (Guest Column)". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 19 August 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
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  55. ^ "Roland Emmerich Profile's Metascore". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on August 29, 2016. Retrieved September 1, 2016.

External linksEdit