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Roland Emmerich Wants To Build Big-Screen Stonewall


A director known for destroying the world wants to show a movement being born.

More often than not director Roland Emmerich's movies revolve around destruction: the alien onslaught of Independence Day, the planet's revolt in 2012, and the carnage that will be wrought in this summer's White House Down, which concerns an attack on Washington DC and presumably the dismantling of these United States.

The question of rebuilding society and ourselves remains left for the viewer's imagination or, should the box office bulge enough, a sequel, as will be seen in ID Forever One and Two, the sequels to Independence Day.

Yes, Emmerich occasionally veers off into artsy territory -- Anonymous, about who really wrote Shakespeare's plays, for example -- but Emmerich's name is most closely aligned with large scale annihilation. He's flipping the script however with another potential project, a smaller affair that concerns construction, not destruction, and even has a comparatively tidy ending.

"I may want to do a little movie - about $12-14 million - about the Stonewall Riots in New York," Emmerich, one of our Out 100 two years ago, told Empire. "It's about these crazy kids in New York, and a country bumpkin who gets into their gang, and at the end they start this riot and change the world."

Set to be penned by writer Jon Robin Bates, another Out 100 honoree celebrated most recently for his play Other Desert Cities, the film won't be just a retelling of how drag queens and barflies took on the NYPD. It's about how LGBT youth overcome alienation, rejection and homelessness to forge new families, and new movements. It's a narrative Emmerich says is inspired by homeless youth he's met in LA.

"I've got more and more involved in the Gay & Lesbian Center in Los Angeles, and I learned that 40% of homeless kids are gay. So things haven't changed very much," he says. "But I put this together and said, I should make a movie about that, so it starts with a kid who gets thrown out of his home and ends up on the streets of the village, and becomes friends with all these kids. In a weird way, it shows that it's still something that happens today."

So while we may know how it ends in the short term, there's still an opened-ended question for the viewer to ponder. And unlike alien invasions or geological doom, it's something the average American can tackle.

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Andrew Belonsky