The expectations for the domestic debut of Fox’s “Independence Day” sequel were already set low, at around $50 million. It went from bad to worse when “Independence Day: Resurgence” came in $10 million lower than predicted — at an estimated $41.6 million for the weekend.
The apocalyptic alien invasion sequel, out two entire decades after the original hit theaters in 1996, made far less on its opening than the original — which earned $50.2 million and went on to become the No. 1 movie of the year, amassing $817.4 million worldwide.
Also given 20 years worth of inflation and increased ticket prices, “Resurgence” is far from being a hit. To add insult to injury, the original production cost $75 million, compared with an estimated $165 million this time around (not counting marketing expenditures).
The silver lining: The movie is opening strong overseas, having grossed an estimated $102 million in 57 markets over the weekend. $15.8 million of that came from IMAX screens, accounting for the second-best global opening for a Fox release in the format.
Here’s what went wrong with “Independence Day: Resurgence” stateside:
1. Will Smith wasn’t in it.
The lead from the original 1996 hit did not return for its sequel two decades later. Fox reportedly tried for years to get Smith back into the driver’s seat of an “Independence Day” followup, but to no avail. For this particular sequel, scheduling conflicts got in the way, according to Smith, who said he was filming Warner Bros.’ “Suicide Squad” during the “Resurgence” production. Without its biggest character and star returning, the project clearly suffered.
2. Liam Hemsworth can’t carry a film.
The youngest Hemsorth brother, Liam has had a lot of success as the man behind the woman in the “Hunger Games” series, playing Gale Hawthorne opposite Jennifer Lawrence‘s Katniss Everdeen. But the Aussie actor has yet to prove he can hold the reigns of a studio tentpole as a leading man, something his brother Chris is having trouble with, too, outside of his “Thor” series.
3. Returning cast members aren’t box office draws.
While their resurgent appearances in the sequel likely added interest to the project for diehard fans, it’s hard to argue that Jeff Goldblum, Vivica A. Fox, or Bill Pullman have ever had star power at the box office — even twenty years ago. Their return to the series didn’t move the needle.
4. It got bad reviews.
The Rotten Tomatoes score for “Resurgence” is now a shoddy 33 percent, as most critics panned it for its unimpressive visual effects, boring storyline, and cliched lines like, “We’re gonna kick some alien ass.” According to the review aggregation site, the 1996 original averaged 62 percent on the Tomatometer — not great, but not nearly as bad as the sequel
5. They waited too long.
Nowadays, any film that becomes a top grossing movie — in any category — gets the sequel treatment, let alone the top movie of the year. For example, once Disney’s “Frozen” hit top animated feature of all time, it instantly inspired plans for the followup film — with the short “Frozen Fever” put out in between to whet fans’ appetites. “Resurgence” simply came 20 years too late.