Are you ready for the return of the James Bond of Plainfield, New Jersey - John McClane? Twentieth Century Fox is betting you are. They're lining up all 4 previous Die Hard movies in theaters near you, leading up to the 10pm premiere of the all-new A Good Day to Die Hard (aka Die Hard 5) on February 13th.
Don’t you think it’s a bit strange how our Moviegoing Event Culture has evolved over the last decade or so? Back in the 90s and early 2000s, it wasn’t unusual for Star Wars fans (and pretty much only Star Wars fans) to stand in line for days just to get a ticket for the first screening of either the Special Editions or the Prequels. Then something happened around 2005. Big theaters started offering franchise-spanning marathon screenings of select genre films like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Twilight series, and even all 8 Harry Potter films. Sure, marathons are nothing new. I’ve been doing them with friends for decades at home with only a couch, some microwave popcorn, and (once, long ago) a sturdy VCR. And some smaller independent theaters were always ahead of the game when it came to hosting special one-night-only screening events that would often draw in fans eager to blow money on a ticket that would let them sit in an uncomfortable theater seat for nearly an entire day. Now we get a marathon for just about every film out there, set up not by the theater chain, but by the studio hoping to cash in on the zeitgeist (they hope) surrounding the latest installment in their film franchise.
At first, Die Hard seems like an odd choice. The films aren’t necessarily connected, except for (spoilers) 1 and 3, and not all of them have been fan favorites or critical classics. But no one can deny Die Hard‘s place in movie history. It’s a cultural touchstone that re-defined the action movie genre when it debuted in 1988. And it made Bruce Willis a movie star at a time when he was known as one half of Moonlighting, a romantic comedy series that to this day is a cautionary tale for any writers who decide to make an unlikely romance between its two leads the hook the whole show is based on (if they sleep together, the playful tension and the audience goes bye-bye). That said, a Die Hard marathon makes for a unique screening event. While a 12+ hour multi-film grind is commonly the domain of geeks obsessed with consuming the whole of their cinematic fantasy worlds in one fell swoop, the Die Hard marathon has the potential to attract just simply men, geeks or not. And since it’s happening on a Wednesday, I imagine mostly unemployed men looking for an adrenaline fueled power trip.
I just don’t know that, at my age (aka someone who saw the original Die Hard when it was first released in theaters), if watching 5 Die Hard movies in a row will be energizing or just exhausting. Though I do expect all screenings to be rife with high-fives and reactionary “oohs” and “aahs” that wouldn’t be out of place at a Superbowl party. And guys, if you’ve got a long-suffering wife or girlfriend who’s “letting” you go to this, make sure you don’t forget her the next day, no matter how exhausted you are. What’s on February 14th? Oh, nothing. Never mind. Yipee-ki-yay, melon farmer!