Die Hard (1988)

R | 132 mins | Drama | 15 July 1988

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HISTORY

       A 27 Jul 1988 DV article cited the production budget as $28 million, including a $5 million salary for lead actor Bruce Willis as “John McClane,” according to a 9 Aug 1988 HR article. Willis’s filming schedule on the television series, Moonlighting, (3 Mar 1985--14 May 1989, ABC) overlapped with Die Hard production at least one day when he had to work on both, according to a 29 Jan 1988 DV news item. On Die Hard, he performed some of his own stunts, as did Alan Rickman as “Hans Gruber.”
       Production notes in AMPAS library files stated that the film was shot entirely in Los Angeles, CA, where the newly built Fox Plaza (owned by Twentieth Century Fox at the time, according to the 27 Jul 1988 DV ) stood in for “Nakatomi Plaza.” As the building was still under construction, director John McTiernan was able to stage some action on the unfinished floors. Fox Plaza’s thirty-third and thirty-fourth floor stood in for the Nakatomi Corporation’s offices, where a 1940s model bridge designed by Frank Lloyd Wright was used as a centerpiece in the boardroom.
       In addition to the Fox Plaza location, “another entire floor” of the Nakatomi Corporation was constructed on Stage 15 at the Twentieth Century Fox studio lot. The set was three stories high, with a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired waterfall and a 350-foot-long, 30-foot-high cyclorama surrounding the stage that replicated the view from Fox Plaza’s thirty-fourth floor. As stated in the 29 Jan 1988 DV, the set cost $1.5 million. The film was shot in “35mm anamorphic,” according to ... More Less

       A 27 Jul 1988 DV article cited the production budget as $28 million, including a $5 million salary for lead actor Bruce Willis as “John McClane,” according to a 9 Aug 1988 HR article. Willis’s filming schedule on the television series, Moonlighting, (3 Mar 1985--14 May 1989, ABC) overlapped with Die Hard production at least one day when he had to work on both, according to a 29 Jan 1988 DV news item. On Die Hard, he performed some of his own stunts, as did Alan Rickman as “Hans Gruber.”
       Production notes in AMPAS library files stated that the film was shot entirely in Los Angeles, CA, where the newly built Fox Plaza (owned by Twentieth Century Fox at the time, according to the 27 Jul 1988 DV ) stood in for “Nakatomi Plaza.” As the building was still under construction, director John McTiernan was able to stage some action on the unfinished floors. Fox Plaza’s thirty-third and thirty-fourth floor stood in for the Nakatomi Corporation’s offices, where a 1940s model bridge designed by Frank Lloyd Wright was used as a centerpiece in the boardroom.
       In addition to the Fox Plaza location, “another entire floor” of the Nakatomi Corporation was constructed on Stage 15 at the Twentieth Century Fox studio lot. The set was three stories high, with a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired waterfall and a 350-foot-long, 30-foot-high cyclorama surrounding the stage that replicated the view from Fox Plaza’s thirty-fourth floor. As stated in the 29 Jan 1988 DV, the set cost $1.5 million. The film was shot in “35mm anamorphic,” according to an article in the Dec 1988 issue of AmCin, and completion of principal photography was announced in a 4 Mar 1988 DV item.
       According to a 16 Aug 1988 LAT news item, the film opened 15 Jul 1988 in twenty-one theaters. Prints were 70mm with six-track Dolby Stereo, as noted in an 11 Jul 1988 HR item. The 9 Aug 1988 HR reported the release had widened to 1,750 screens, and the cumulative box-office gross was cited as $68,217,305, to date, by a 28 Sep 1988 HR “Hollywood Report” column.
       Reviews were mixed. While the 11 Jul 1988 HR called it “a sleeper surprise” and a “riveting action thriller,” the 15 Jul 1988 LAT review complained that the “human drama” was “silly and disgusting,” but predicted the film would launch Bruce Willis to “movie stardom at last.” Describing the film’s characterizations as clichéd, the 15 Jul 1988 NYT review nonetheless deemed it “exceedingly stupid, but escapist fun.” Die Hard received the following Academy Award nominations: Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Visual Effects.

      End credits include “Special Thanks” to the following organizations and individuals: C. Itoh Electronics, Inc.; Carver Corporation; Control Data Corporation & ETA Systems Incorporated; Eldon Office Products; Hamilton Sorter Company, Inc.; Javelin Electronics; Pitney Bowes, Inc.; Ford Showcase; Freightliner; Hadler Public Relations; Norm Marshall & Associates, Inc.; Unique Product Placement; Vista Group; and Allen Peana, KTTV, Los Angeles. End credits also contain the following statement: “The Producers wish to gratefully acknowledge all of the supportive neighbors and businesses of Century City. A special thanks to the following individuals and companies for their help: Dick Beving, George Meehan, City of Los Angeles Motion Picture Coordination Office; Eli Tawil, West Los Angeles Area Los Angeles Police Department; Jim Gembala & The Residents of Century Hill Condominiums; Maria Morris & The Residents of Century Park Place Condominiums; Georgian Francisco & The Staff of the Century Plaza Hotel & Tower; Patty Brewer & The Management of The Century Plaza Towers; JMB Property Management; Marriott Corporation.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Dec 1988.
---
Daily Variety
18 Dec 1987.
---
Daily Variety
29 Jan 1988.
---
Daily Variety
27 Jul 1988
p. 28.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jul 1988
p. 3, 24.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Aug 1988
p. 3, 14.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Sep 1988.
---
Los Angeles Times
15 Jul 1988
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
16 Aug 1988
Calendar, p. 1.
New York Times
15 Jul 1988
p. 14.
Variety
13 Jul 1988
p. 12.
Variety
27 Jul 1988
p. 28.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Terrorists:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Gordon Company/Silver Pictures Production
A John McTiernan Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d unit dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam op
Cam asst
Cam asst
Cam asst
Gaffer
Best boy
Best boy
Musco Light op
Musco Light op
Musco Light op
Musco Light op
Best boy grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Still photog
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Set des
Prop master
Asst prop master
Weapons specialist
Const coord
Const foreman
Const paint foreman
Prod painter
Lead man
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Knives provided by
Weatherford, Texas
Spec ceramic vessels provided by
Los Angeles and New York
Spec ceramic vessels provided by
Spec ceramic vessels provided by
Butterfly Wing Bridge model furnished courtesy of
San Francisco representative, The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Women's set costumer
Men's set costumer
Addl costumer
Costumer to Bruce Willis
MUSIC
Mus ed
Supv mus ed
Orch cond by
Addl orch
Addl orch
Addl orch
Addl orch
Scoring mixer
Scoring eng
Scoring eng
Scoring eng
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cable op
Sd eff by
Sd eff by
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Post prod dial
Supv dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Asst dial ed
Supv ADR ed
Asst ADR ed
Asst ADR ed
Apprentice ADR ed
Apprentice ADR ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley by
Foley by
Foley mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Machine op
ADR mixer
ADR rec
Dolby Stereo consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff prod
Spec eff coord
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff transportation
Spec visual eff in 65mm by
Dir of photog, Boss Film Corporation
Visual eff art dir, Boss Film Corporation
Visual eff ed, Boss Film Corporation
Chief financial offer, Boss Film Corporation
Spec eff foreman, Boss Film Corporation
Opt dept supv, Boss Film Corporation
Model shop supv, Boss Film Corporation
Spec projects supv, Boss Film Corporation
Chief eng, Boss Film Corporation
Chief matte artist, Boss Film Corporation
Asst to Richard Edlund, Boss Film Corporation
Prod coord, Boss Film Corporation
Opt supv "Die Hard," Boss Film Corporation
Opt cam op, Boss Film Corporation
Opt line-up, Boss Film Corporation
Opt line-up, Boss Film Corporation
Negative development, Boss Film Corporation
Cam op, Boss Film Corporation
1st asst cam, Boss Film Corporation
Still photog, Boss Film Corporation
Tech anim supv, Boss Film Corporation
Anim prod asst, Boss Film Corporation
Anim prod asst, Boss Film Corporation
Anim prod asst, Boss Film Corporation
Asst visual eff ed, Boss Film Corporation
Eff tech, Boss Film Corporation
Chief lighting tech, Boss Film Corporation
Key grip, Boss Film Corporation
Stage asst, Boss Film Corporation
Stage asst, Boss Film Corporation
Stage asst, Boss Film Corporation
Chief model maker, Boss Film Corporation
Model const foreman, Boss Film Corporation
Model maker, Boss Film Corporation
Model maker, Boss Film Corporation
Model maker, Boss Film Corporation
Model maker, Boss Film Corporation
Model maker, Boss Film Corporation
Model maker, Boss Film Corporation
Standby model maker, Boss Film Corporation
Model electronics, Boss Film Corporation
Model eff key man, Boss Film Corporation
Model eff, Boss Film Corporation
Model painter, Boss Film Corporation
Model helicopter consultant, Boss Film Corporation
Chief miniature moldmaker, Boss Film Corporation
Des eng, Boss Film Corporation
Chief electronics eng, Boss Film Corporation
Precision cinetech, Boss Film Corporation
Prod accountant, Boss Film Corporation
Video and graphic displays by
Video and graphic displays, Video Image
Video and graphic displays, Video Image
Video and graphic displays, Video Image
Video and graphic displays, Video Image
Addl opt eff and main and end titles des by
New York City
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist to Bruce Willis
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Pilot
Prod assoc
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Loc liaison
Prod coord
Prod coord
Asst to Lawrence Gordon
Asst to Lawrence Gordon
Asst to Joel Silver
Asst to Joel Silver
Asst to John McTiernan
Asst to John McTiernan
Asst to Charles Gordon
Asst to Bruce Willis
Asst to Bruce Willis
Trainer for Bruce Willis
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Casting assoc
Extras casting
Extras casting
First aid
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Picture car coord
Caterer
Craft service
Police tech adv
Spec weapons training
Military tech adv
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Pub coord
Maintenance eng
Dubbing projectionist
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp (New York, 1979).
SONGS
"Singin' In The Rain," by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown
"Winter Wonderland," by Felix Bernard and Dick Smith
"Christmas In Hollis," by Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels and Jason Mizell, performed by Run-D.M.C., courtesy of Profile Records, Inc.
+
SONGS
"Singin' In The Rain," by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown
"Winter Wonderland," by Felix Bernard and Dick Smith
"Christmas In Hollis," by Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels and Jason Mizell, performed by Run-D.M.C., courtesy of Profile Records, Inc.
"Skeletons," written and performed by Stevie Wonder, courtesy of Motown Record Corp.
"Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, performed by Vaughn Monroe, courtesy of MCA Records.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
15 July 1988
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 15 July 1988
Production Date:
ended February or March 1988 in Los Angeles, CA
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
17 August 1988
Copyright Number:
PA374331
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
gauge
35mm anamorphic
Lenses/Prints
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
132
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29160
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

New York City police detective John McClane flies to Los Angeles, California, to visit his estranged wife, Holly, and their two children for Christmas. Argyle, an inexperienced limousine driver, picks John up at the airport and drives him to his wife’s office located on the thirtieth floor of Nakatomi Plaza. Uncertain whether Holly will invite him home that night, John enlists Argyle to wait for his call in the underground parking lot. At the lobby desk, he is disappointed to find his wife listed under her maiden name, “Holly Gennaro.” Riding the elevator to the thirtieth floor, John finds himself among revelers at the Nakatomi Corporation’s Christmas party. The President, Joe Takagi, recognizes him and leads him to Holly’s office, where they find her colleague, Harry Ellis, alone at her desk, snorting cocaine. When Holly returns, she is surprised to see John and shows him to the bathroom, where he washes up. Holly invites John to stay at the house and says she has missed him, but he confronts her about using her maiden name. Holly claims the Japanese businessmen prefer to think of a high-powered career woman as single. Holly is called away to make a speech, leaving John behind. Meanwhile, a group of international criminals led by a German man, Hans Gruber, park a truck in the underground parking lot and storm the building, killing two security guards and taking over the lobby desk. An African American computer expert, Theo, hacks into the security system to lock down the building, while John, who has taken off his shirt and shoes, calls Argyle from the bathroom and tells him to keep waiting in his limousine. The phone line ... +


New York City police detective John McClane flies to Los Angeles, California, to visit his estranged wife, Holly, and their two children for Christmas. Argyle, an inexperienced limousine driver, picks John up at the airport and drives him to his wife’s office located on the thirtieth floor of Nakatomi Plaza. Uncertain whether Holly will invite him home that night, John enlists Argyle to wait for his call in the underground parking lot. At the lobby desk, he is disappointed to find his wife listed under her maiden name, “Holly Gennaro.” Riding the elevator to the thirtieth floor, John finds himself among revelers at the Nakatomi Corporation’s Christmas party. The President, Joe Takagi, recognizes him and leads him to Holly’s office, where they find her colleague, Harry Ellis, alone at her desk, snorting cocaine. When Holly returns, she is surprised to see John and shows him to the bathroom, where he washes up. Holly invites John to stay at the house and says she has missed him, but he confronts her about using her maiden name. Holly claims the Japanese businessmen prefer to think of a high-powered career woman as single. Holly is called away to make a speech, leaving John behind. Meanwhile, a group of international criminals led by a German man, Hans Gruber, park a truck in the underground parking lot and storm the building, killing two security guards and taking over the lobby desk. An African American computer expert, Theo, hacks into the security system to lock down the building, while John, who has taken off his shirt and shoes, calls Argyle from the bathroom and tells him to keep waiting in his limousine. The phone line goes dead, and John senses something is wrong. Armed with automatic weapons, Hans’s group emerges from the elevator onto the thirtieth floor and takes the partygoers hostage. Hearing shots fired, John pulls his gun and escapes to the emergency stairwell. Railing against the Takami Corporation’s greed, Hans leads Takagi at gunpoint to his office on another floor. There, Hans announces his plan to steal $640 million in bearer bonds stored in the company’s vault, but Takagi claims he cannot provide the necessary access codes. John spies some of the terrorists moving explosives into the building, then sneaks up on Takagi’s office as Hans shoots Takagi dead. After retreating to an unoccupied floor, John pulls a fire alarm, and although police respond, one of the terrorists posing as a security guard, Eddie, convinces the officers that it was a false alarm. Pinpointing the floor where the alarm was pulled, another terrorist, Tony, pursues John. Activating a table saw to lure Tony out, John ambushes the terrorist and the men struggle until they fall down a stairwell, where Tony dies from his injuries. Still barefoot, John tries to steal Tony’s shoes but they are too small. John sends Tony’s corpse down in the elevator to the thirtieth floor with the message, “Now I have a machine gun,” scrawled on Tony's shirt. Tony’s brother, Karl, intends to avenge Tony’s death, but Hans reminds him they must prioritize the robbery. John procures a CB radio and gains access to the roof, where he radios police. Although a policewoman reprimands him for using a secure line, she overhears loud noises as Karl and two of his cohorts shoot at John, and sends Sgt. Al Powell to investigate. Running back inside, John uses the strap of Tony’s machine gun to descend into a ventilation shaft, where he almost falls to his death but saves himself by grabbing onto the edge of an air duct and climbing inside. Sensing John might be inside the duct, Karl shoots at it from below but is drawn away when he learns Sgt. Al Powell is outside the building. John retreats to Takagi’s office where he smashes the window with a chair to get Al’s attention. Two more assassins, Heinrich and Marco, pursue him, but John shoots them both dead. In the lobby, Eddie opens the door for Al, who performs a cursory walk-through and leaves. Before Al drives away, however, John drops Marco’s corpse onto Al’s police car, prompting Al to call for back-up. Hearing Al’s distress call, television reporter Sam Thornberg begs for a news truck to cover the event. Over the CB radio, John tells Al that nine terrorists, led by Hans Gruber, remain, along with roughly thirty hostages on the thirtieth floor of the building. Deputy police chief Dwayne T. Robinson takes Al’s radio and orders John to stand by. Introducing herself as “Miss Gennaro” to Hans, Holly asks to move her pregnant assistant to a couch and requests bathroom breaks for the hostages. In the parking lot, Argyle hears news of the attack over his CB radio and realizes it is taking place above him. While continuing to penetrate the vault’s security system, Theo watches surveillance cameras and announces when four SWAT [Special Weapons and Tactics] members attempt to infiltrate the building’s main floor. As the terrorists fire shots outside, Robinson wants the SWAT members to retreat but their leader insists they keep going. The SWAT men are killed, and two terrorists, James and Alexander, launch a missile at an armored police vehicle when it approaches another corner. John sends an explosive device down the elevator shaft to the floor where James and Alexander operate their rocket launcher, causing a major blast. Police chief Robinson reprimands John over the radio, but John demands to speak to Al, who informs him that he just killed two more terrorists. Holly’s colleague, Harry Ellis, attempts to make a deal with Hans, lying that he and John are longtime friends. Hans gives Ellis his CB radio to contact John; although Ellis tells John that Hans will kill him if John does not produce a bag of detonators that Heinrich was carrying, John refuses, and Hans shoots Ellis. To stall the police, Hans offers a deal: if they release a list of incarcerated revolutionaries in Northern Ireland, Canada, and Sri Lanka, he will release the hostages to awaiting helicopters on the roof. Two FBI agents, “Big” Johnson and “Little” Johnson, arrive, informing Robinson that they are taking over. John comes across Hans, who fakes an American accent and pretends to be a Nakatomi employee, Bill Clay. Identifying himself as a policeman from New York, John enlists Hans’s help, giving him a handgun. However, when Hans points the gun at John and demands the detonators, Hans discovers the gun is not loaded. Terrorists Karl, Fritz, and Franco emerge from the elevator and John shoots them both dead as he retreats, cutting his foot on broken glass. As Karl and Hans return to the thirtieth floor, Holly notices Karl’s frustration and grins, sensing John is still alive. In a bathroom, John removes the glass from his bloodied foot and radios Al, asking him to pass along an apology to Holly in case he dies. He says he should have been more supportive when she was promoted; instead, he allowed her to move to California without him. He asks why Al is just a beat cop, and Al confesses that he accidentally shot a child while on duty. When the FBI cuts power to the building, the vault opens and the terrorists remove the bearer bonds. FBI agents lie to Hans that the prisoners have been released in exchange for the hostages and helicopters are on the way. At the McClane residence, Sam forces his way inside with a news crew to put John and Holly’s children, Lucy and John Jr., on the air. Hans sees the report and realizes Holly and John are married; thus, he takes Holly at gunpoint while the other hostages are ushered to the roof. John realizes Hans is planning to blow up the roof as the helicopters descend, and radios Al to warn him, but Al does not hear. Near the roof, Karl ambushes John and shoots him in the shoulder; however, John overpowers Karl, tying a chain around his neck and leaving him to hang. On the roof, John demands Holly, but the other hostages alert him that Hans took her to the vault. After John sends the hostages back inside, FBI agents in helicopters mistake John for a terrorist and shoot at him. He ties a fire hose around his waist and jumps over the side of the building, shooting through a window and swinging inside just before the hose snaps. As the terrorists’ explosives blow up the roof, John heads to the vault, where he and Hans come to a stand off. Hans holds Holly at gunpoint and forces John to drop his weapon. However, John removes a second gun secretly taped to his back and shoots Hans and Eddie. Hans totters backward and falls through a window, still holding onto Holly’s wrist. Just in time, John undoes Holly’s watch, and the two watch as Hans loses his grip and falls to his death. Reunited, John and Holly kiss. Outside the building, John embraces Al and introduces Holly using her maiden name, but Holly corrects him, identifying herself as “Holly McClane.” Covered in blood, Karl emerges from the building and points his gun at John, but Al shoots him dead before anyone else can react. Excited by the evening’s dramatic turn, Argyle drives his limousine out of the parking lot and picks up Holly and John. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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