Remembering “Die Hard”
Twenty years ago today, the classic action flick “Die Hard” was released.
REMEMBERING DIE HARD
Compiled by Michael Coate
John McClane … Bruce Willis
Holly Gennaro-McClane … Bonnie Bedelia
Sgt. Al Powell … Reginald Veljohnson
Dwayne T. Robinson … Paul Gleason
Argyle … De'voreaux White
Thornburg … William Atherton
Ellis … Hart Bochner
Hans Gruber … Alan Rickman
Karl … Alexander Godunov
Theo … Clarence Gilyard, Jr.
DIRECTOR: John McTiernan
SCREENPLAY: Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza (screenplay), Roderick Thorp (novel)
RELEASE DATE: Friday, July 15, 1988 (70mm limited release); Wednesday, July 20, 1988 (general release)
“40 Stories Of Sheer Adventure!"
"An Adventure That Will Blow You Through The Back Wall Of The Theatre.”
PRODUCTION BUDGET: $28 million
OPENING-WEEK BOOKINGS: 21
OPENING-WEEKEND BOXOFFICE GROSS: $601,851
CUMULATIVE DOMESTIC BOXOFFICE GROSS: $83 million
RANK ON TOP-GROSSING FILMS OF 1988: 7
“Nine million terrorists in the world, and I got to kill one with feet smaller than my sister.” – McClane
“I am an exceptional thief, Mrs. McClane.” – Hans
“Oh my god! The quarterback is toast!” – Theo
“You throw quite a party. I didn’t realize they celebrated Christmas in Japan.” – McClane / “We’re flexible. Pearl Harbor didn’t work out, so we got you with tape decks.” – Joe Takagi
“We’re going to need some more FBI guys, I guess.” – Dwayne T. Robinson
“Hey, business is business. You use a gun. I use a fountain pen. What’s the difference?” – Harry Ellis
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
“Alan Rickman, a British stage actor, in his movie debut as the chief terrorist, creates a classic villain.” – Dave Kehr, Chicago Tribune
“‘Die Hard’ is dynamite.” – Joel Siegel, Good Morning America
“[bruce] Willis has found the perfect vehicle to careen wildly onto the crowded L.A. freeway of ‘Lethal Weapons’ and ‘Beverly Hills Cops.’ And he keeps a respectable grip on the wheel, his only acting requirements being to shift that ‘Moonlighting’ glibspeak into R-rated high-drive and fire his Baretta 92 to heart’s content.” – Desson Howe, The Washington Post
“‘Die Hard’ is exceedingly stupid, but escapist fun.” – Caryn James, The New York Times
“This summer’s action movie to see.” – Mike Clark, USA Today
“For sheer roller-coaster thrills, the pick of the crop is ‘Die Hard’.” – David Ansen, Newsweek
“See it in 70mm and kick back; it’s a party of a movie.” – Peter Stack, San Francisco Chronicle
“‘Die Hard’ has audiences rising to their feet and screaming at the screen! You’ll have a whale of a time.” – Mike McGrady, Newsday
“‘Die Hard’ is the archetypal big-deal Hollywood exploitation picture. It’s like a giant war toy, a triumph of well-oiled mechanical precision that performs miracles of destruction. As a grand flourish of cinematic technique, it is awesome; as a human drama, it is disgusting and silly, a mindless depiction of carnage on an epic scale.” – Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
INTERNATIONAL RELEASE DATES
09.21.1988 … France (“Lepiegede Cristal”)
09.23.1988 … Taiwan
09.27.1988 … Philippines
09.28.1988 … Italy (“Trappola de Cristallo”)
09.28.1988 … Spain (“Jungla de Cristal”)
09.30.1988 … Sweden (“Operasjon Skyscraper”)
10.06.1988 … Australia
10.07.1988 … Austria (“Stirb Langsam”)
10.07.1988 … Finland (“Vain Kuolleen Ruumiini Yli”)
10.07.1988 … New Zealand
10.19.1988 … Hong Kong
10.19.1988 … Singapore
11.11.1988 … The Netherlands
11.11.1988 … Norway (“Die Hard: Operasjon Skyscraper”)
11.11.1988 … Thailand
11.11.1988 … West Germany (“Stirb Langsam”)
12.02.1988 … Malaysia
12.15.1988 … Argentina (“Duro de Matar”)
12.26.1988 … Denmark
02.02.1989 … United Kingdom
02.11.1989 … Japan
04.13.1989 … Mexico (“Duro de Matar”)
04.20.1989 … Colombia (“Duro de Matar”)
The Nakatomi Plaza featured in the film is the Fox Plaza, the Los Angeles corporate offices of 20th Century Fox Film Corporation.
“Die Hard” is based upon the 1979 book “Nothing Lasts Forever” by Roderick Thorp.
The world premiere of “Die Hard” was held on July 7, 1988 at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, CA.
Bruce Willis received a then-record $5 million salary for his acting services.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Burt Reynolds and Richard Gere all reportedly passed on playing the role of John McClane.
“Die Hard” was nominated for four Academy Awards: Film Editing, Sound, Sound Effects Editing, Visual Effects. The film won a BMI Film Music award for Michael Kamen’s original score and a Hocho Eiga Sho (“Best Foreign Picture for 1989”) from the Japanese newspaper Hochi Shimbun.
For the theatrical film prints, a spherical film element of the 20th Century Fox logo that opens the film was (mistakenly) used instead of an (appropriate) anamorphic element, resulting in a noticeably stretched-out image.
“Die Hard” spawned three sequels: “Die Hard 2” (1990), “Die Hard With A Vengeance” (1995) and “Live Free Or Die Hard” (2007).
“Die Hard” inspired the ultimate motion picture high-concept story idea expression: “Die Hard on a ______.”
THE 70MM ENGAGEMENTS
The following is a list of the 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo presentations that were booked for the film’s exclusive, limited-market release. These “Cinema Treasures” were the best venues in which to experience “Die Hard.” (The 35mm general release and 70mm moveover, sub-run, and international bookings have not been included.)
Atlanta LENOX SQUARE
Boston CINEMA 57
Dallas NORTHPARK I-II
Houston SPECTRUM 8
Los Angeles AVCO CENTER
Montreal PLACE ALEXIS-NIHON
New York BARONET
New York CRITERION CENTER
St. Louis ESQUIRE
San Francisco CORONET
San Jose TOWN & COUNTRY
Seattle CINEMA 150
Vancouver GRANVILLE 7
Washington WISCONSIN AVENUE CINEMAS
Sources/References: Numerous newspaper articles, reviews and advertisements; and Boxoffice; Boxofficemojo; Cinerama and Large-Frame Exhibition in Canada; “Die Hard” (1988, 20th Century Fox); The Hollywood Reporter; Internet Movie Database; Newsweek; Time Magazine; Variety.
Special thanks to Thomas Hauerslev, Stan Malone, and the librarians and research assistants who contributed to this project.
So¦what are your “Die Hard” memories?
Theaters in this post
- Atwater Theatre
- Boyd Theatre
- Continental 10
- Coronet 1 & 2
- Coronet Theatre
- Criterion Theatre
- Dadeland Triplex
- Ed Mirvish Theatre
- Empire Granville 7 Cinemas
- Esquire Theater
- iPic Westwood
- Kenwood Twin Cinemas
- Lenox Square Theatre
- Mann Southtown Theatre
- Northpark West 1 & 2
- Spectrum Cinema
- Theatre 1 & Space 57
- Town & Country Theater
- UA 150
- Wisconsin Avenue Cinemas
- Woodfield Mall Cinemas