Roland Emmerich (born November 10, 1955) is a German film director, screenwriter and producer, known for his disaster and action films. His films have earned over US$945 million during their theatrical runs in the United States, making him the eighteenth highest grossing director of all time.
Emmerich was born in Sindelfingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. As a youth, he traveled extensively throughout Europe and North America on vacations financed by his father, the wealthy founder of a garden machinery production company. In 1977, he began attending University of Television and Film Munich with the intention of studying to become a production designer. After watching Star Wars, he instead decided to enroll in the school's film director program. Required to create a short film as his final thesis in 1981, he wrote and directed The Noah's Ark Principle, which was eventually screened as the opening movie at the 1984 Berlin Film Festival.
In 1985, he founded Centropolis Film Productions (now Centropolis Entertainment) in partnership with his sister, producer Ute Emmerich, and directed his major film debut, a fantasy feature named Joey. He subsequently directed the 1987 comedy Hollywood-Monster and the 1990 science-fiction film Moon 44. Theatrically, these were only released in and nearby his native country, although Emmerich filmed them in English and went against conventional German styles in an attempt to appeal to a larger market. This subsequently resulted in Moon 44 being released direct-to-video in the U.S. in early 1991. Joey and Hollywood-Monster eventually also saw home video releases in the U.S. (as Making Contact and Ghost Chase, respectively) once Emmerich achieved more prominence in America.