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Why Die Hard was set at Christmas to trick studio executives

People love to debate whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie but the more fascinating thing is why the director chose to set it on that night.

Bruce Willis in Die Hard

It’s an eternal debate: is Die Hard a Christmas movie? Honestly, we’re tired of the conversation at this point, but we can all agree on one thing. Die Hard is one of the best action movies ever. That said, it is set on Christmas Eve, but director John McTiernan didn’t set it on that night because he wanted to make a Christmas Carol with guns. He did it to distract studio executives

“It wasn’t intended as a Christmas movie, or the fact that it was deliberately built around Christmas, but not intended to be a Christmas movie,” McTiernan said during an appearance on the Empire Podcast. “The fact that it was a Christmas movie had a lot to do with, you know, cause it’s actually, from a distance, politically very strident.”

“The only reason that survived was that the people in the studio who would have stopped that were deceived because they thought it was just an action movie about a Christmas party that goes wrong,” he continued. So there we have it the decision to set the film at Christmas was a clever ploy to distract studio executives with literal baubles and tinsel.

We’re not quite sure what political points Die Hard makes that the studio would have disagreed with. Maybe they wouldn’t have liked the depiction of the FBI as incompetent, or perhaps they took issue with the whole lone cop against the world stuff?

And McTiernan did admit that if you think Die Hard should be reserved for the yuletide, then that’s cool by him. “It’s not for us to say. It’s people. It’s for the audience to say,” he said. “If the audience decides they want to make it a Christmas movie, it’s a Christmas movie.”

If you love Die Hard, then check out our list of the best superhero movies, or if you fancy something a bit different, we have a guide to the best sci-fi series.