As Hans Gruber, his brother Simon and several other super villains can attest, it is hard to kill NYPD cop John McClane, despite that underwhelming last film. Fox is making a deal for Live Free Or Die Hard helmer Len Wiseman to return and develop with producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura a sixth installment of Die Hard, the venerable action series that overnight transformed Bruce Willis from a TV to a movie star back in 1988. All of this is early, but they are referring to this as Die Hard: Year One and I’m told that Wiseman and di Bonaventura are now looking for a screenwriter to script a reinvention of the venerable action series, one that is sort of a prequel while still leaving room for Willis to play McClane as well. Basically, he’ll bookend a story line that will be set much of the action in 1979, when McClane was a cop in gritty New York City and showing how he became a die hard kind of guy.
While di Bonaventura is Paramount-based, he’s involved here because Fox sought to convert one of his project into a Die Hard movie (same as was done with Die Hard: With A Vengeance, which came from a spec script titled Simon Says). Wiseman came up with a new angle that he pitched to di Bonaventura, who’s staying involved here and will produce with the director. Di Bonaventura is certainly adept at tent poles and he also has a strong relationship with Willis, who doesn’t have a deal but has been kept in the loop every step of the way.
The idea of Willis working with a younger actor playing the same character is not unprecedented as Joseph Gordon-Levitt played the young version of him in Rian Johnson’s Looper. Wiseman did a good job giving theDie Hard franchise a second wind in 2007’s Live Free Or Die Hard, which grossed $383 million with a $134 million domestic gross. The last installment, the John Moore-directed A Good Day To Die Hard, though not a crowd pleaser, did gross just north of $300 million, showing the viability of the franchise. I’m told a lot of screenwriters covet this movie, because let’s face it, McClane is one of the great action movie characters of the last 40 years.