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The Day After

Movie has the biggest opening of all time with $104.3 million

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It's official: There is intelligent life in Hollywood. Well, at least at Twentieth Century Fox, which hyped Independence Day to the moon, then watched it conquer the nation with $104.3 million in its first week — vaporizing practically every box office record in the book.

All of Hollywood felt the fallout. At Fox, jubilant execs started itching for a sequel. ''If we had our choice, we'd aim for summer '98,'' says Fox chief Bill Mechanic. ''But that may be unrealistic.'' An understatement, considering the follow-up has yet to be plotted, and it hinges on the cooperation of ID producer Dean Devlin and director Roland Emmerich. ''The only way we'd do it would be if a phenomenal idea came up,'' says Devlin. ''It just wouldn't be fair to make it just because the first one did well.''

Understandably, Devlin and Emmerich could be found basking in Mexico, courtesy of a Fox-paid vacation. (''Fox has been generous,'' quips Devlin. ''They gave us coupons for an Arch Deluxe.'')

But ID2 (ID42? ID5?) or not, Americans will get their fill of little green men, thanks to at least 11 alien movies on the radar. Next up: Tim Burton's Mars Attacks! Though campier than ID, the film's similar plotline could spell trouble. ''I think Burton's extremely concerned about Independence Day,'' says Mars Attacks! screenwriter Jonathan Gems. ''We've decided not to shoot an ending — for now. Tim is waiting to see how ID affects everything. He's asking for more money for special effects.''

Burton may be right to fret. ID's success was such that the most astonishing development was the discovery of a few earthlings who hadn't yet seen it. Were they Luddites? Freemen? No, explains New York-based actor Moss Roberts, 27: ''I was abducted by aliens.''

Biggest Openings of All Time

#1 Independence Day $104.3 Million* #2. Mission: Impossible $74.9 #3. Jurassic Park $74.1 #4. Batman Forever $72.2 #5. Batman Returns $66.2 #6. Batman $63.8 #7. Terminator 2 $57.4 #8. Twister $53.9

*Based on 6 1/2-day grosses Courtesy of Exhibitor Relations

Originally posted Jul 19, 1996 Published in issue #336 Jul 19, 1996 Order article reprints