What makes a movie a Christmas movie? In the case of Die Hard, the 20th Century Fox film released in 1988 about wisecracking cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) trapped in a high-rise with villain Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) on Christmas Eve, the answer isn’t so easy. Ostensibly an action movie that helped redefine the genre, its holiday setting has led to years of speculation over whether it’s a seasonal classic or just an action classic.
A new trailer from 20th Century Studios (formerly 20th Century Fox) may have answered the question. At least, if you believe the studio is the final word on the matter.
In the reedited preview, a jolly McClane is presented as a dad with a Christmas crisis on his hands in what’s billed as “the greatest Christmas story ever told.” While it’s tongue-in-cheek and seems intended to promote a new 4K digital release of the franchise, it also makes a pretty convincing case that Die Hard belongs next to A Christmas Story on the shelf. (Both feature quite a bit of gunplay.)
Various people involved with the production of the film have weighed in on the question over the years. On Twitter in 2017, screenwriter Steven E. de Souza affirmed its Christmas status; Bruce Willis declared it’s not a holiday movie but a “g*ddamn Bruce Willis movie” during a Comedy Central Roast.
In 2020, director John McTiernan offered that “We hadn’t intended it to be a Christmas movie, but the joy that came from it is what turned it into a Christmas movie.”
Audiences don’t seem to have reached any consensus. When The Hollywood Reporter surveyed random people in 2018, 62 percent said it wasn’t part of the holiday movie genre. Maybe the trailer above will change their minds.
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