Roland Emmerich's name is synonymous with big budget disaster flicks. For 30 years, the director has been destroying parts of the planet on screen with titles like Independence Day, Godzilla, 2012, and The Day After Tomorrow under his belt. Now, he is gearing up to unleash more chaos upon the human characters unfortunate enough to live in his fictional worlds with Moonfall. Moonfall, in many ways, is a mash up of Emmerich's greatest hits as its big ideas (none of which will be spoiled here, the movie opens this weekend!) echo sentiments of his previous films to combine for one big planet shattering extravaganza.
"It's actually easier," Emmerich says of making these disaster movies now, compared to 1996 when he pitted Will Smith against an alien invasion. "In Independence Day, we had to do this all in-reel, you know? And so it becomes much easier. And it's also a little bit an afterthought, you know? Because now you can do so much more and you just like kind of create this incredible images." Moonfall certainly does offer its own take on those "incredible images," as its plot sees the moon releasing from its orbit and starting a path to collide with the Earth. This prompts gravitational pulls to shift, unleashing tidal waves on major cities and pulling cars, trees, and even characters to begin losing their footing on Earth as they are pulled to the impending moon. It's all come a long way from cars having to be practically dropped on top of other cars to showcase explosive chaos from an alien strike on New York City. Now, meteors can fly through skylines without so much as a mini-model having to be destroyed.
"I did a lot of destruction in 2012 and, you know, it's just like a new way," Emmerich says. "I read this book called Who Built the Moon? and that inspired me, actually, to do that story. But I come up with a totally different solution than what they came up with. And there was like, kind of just a great idea to do that." The plot does grow into something more than the moon simply coming to Earth, as trailers reveal some sort of alien species or technology is involved in this change of path.
It's not all about the death and destruction, though. Emmerich shies away from being too in the audiences face with the casualties, revealing that this is part of the magic to keep audiences entertained without ruining their moviegoing experiences with violence. "You have to always stay a little bit away from cruelty, so you don't want to kind of show too many people, you know, dying right in front of you," the director says. "And that's kind of a trick, you know? And then, this movie is kind of taking also like, kind of a little bit, a left turn. The moment this doesn't work to kind of catch this thing, they have to go inside the moon, which is kind of really, I think, the big, big surprise. And we show a little bit of it in the trailers, but what happens inside the moon is quite fantastic."
To find out what happens inside the moon, you'll have to see Lionsgate's Moonfall in theaters. If enough people enjoy the chaos Emmerich is unleashing in this sci-fi thrill ride, the studio might just be incentivized to send another team into orbit to tell more of the story. Emmerich admits, he always intended this as a part one in a trilogy of Moonfall films: "I always kind of said if this movie works, you know, I want to make a part two and three."
See ComicBook.com's full interview with Emmerich in the video at the top of this article. Are you excited for Moonfall? Share your thoughts in the comment section or send them my way on Instagram! Moonfall opens in theaters on February 4.