I still haven’t seen Independence Day: Resurgence, and there’s a good chance I won’t.
When 20th Century Fox made the decision not to screen the film for US press in advance of the film’s opening, they sent a very clear message to anyone paying attention, and it’s a message that I believe more and more studios would love to send to critics, especially on their giant event films: not only do we not need you, but we don’t want you. At all.
And it’s true. Studios don’t really need to screen movies for critics. It’s a professional agreement that we all participate in, but more and more often, studios screen later and almost begrudgingly. I am amazed how many times this year alone I’ve had to basically beg to even find out when or if a screening is happening. The stakes are getting higher for the studios as they push all their chips onto these megamovies. Now that there are no mid-range films and everything is either a million-dollar pick-up or a gigantically-budgeted pre-sold property, studios have to look at the prospect of mixed or negative reviews as a direct threat to their bottom line.
One of the things that makes Independence Day: Resurgence different than a standard sequel is the amount of time that passed between the release of the first film and this one. It is uncommon for a studio to let a property lay fallow for that long, and when you consider what a monster hit the original was and how Fox typically works, it’s almost unthinkable that it took a full 20 years between movies. Most of the long-lag sequels that have existed before now have been for very different films, and from a commercial point of view, it’s a model that doesn’t really have a strong precursor. You’ve got an entirely different generation buying tickets now, and you have to wonder how much of an attachment they’ve got to that film from two decades ago that has no spin-offs, no sequels, and no real pop culture presence in the years since.