Hollywood is readying a new wave of action thrillers | EW.com


Hollywood is readying a new wave of action thrillers

''Die Hard With a Vengeance'''s success is spurring imitations, including ''Daylight,'' ''Executive Decision,'' and ''Sudden Death''

The Die’s been cast. The $350 million worldwide grosses for Bruce Willis’ Die Hard With a Vengeance have Hollywood again mining the movie’s formula (a reluctant hero, a tight setting, a race against time) for box office gold. As the list below shows, there are more than a dozen variations on the theme. That’s good news for moviegoers, but daunting news for the screenwriter who’ll have to dream up John McClane’s new escapade (a possibility, says Fox, if Willis plays along). Other variations already ticking:

Concept: Die Hard in a tunnel.
Plot: A chemical explosion seals a New York City tunnel. It’s up to a medical worker to get everyone out alive.
Status: Now filming in Rome with Sylvester Stallone and Viggo Mortensen (Crimson Tide). ”If you’re going to characterize it as a Die Hard movie, it’s more intelligent,” brags producer David T. Friendly. ”There’s not one gun in the entire movie.” Due this summer from Universal.

‘Executive Decision’
Concept: Die Hard on a plane.
Plot: A terrorist’s followers take over a plane carrying a U.S. senator. They’ll blow up the plane unless the President frees their leader.
Status: From Die Hard producer Joel Silver, Decision stars Kurt Russell and Steven Seagal. Due from Warner Bros. in March.

Concept: Die Hard on a 747.
Plot: A psycho killer does in everyone on board except a female flight attendant and a child.
Status: Currently in preproduction at Rysher Entertainment, what makes this one different is that ”it’s not [about] a team of terrorists. It’s a one-on-one between the stewardess and the psycho,” says Loranne Turgeon, assistant to producer David Valdes (Unforgiven).

‘Sudden Death’
Concept: Die Hard in a sports arena.
Plot: A firefighter with a troubled past races against the clock to find his daughter, kidnapped during a hockey game.
Status: Jean-Claude Van Damme and Powers Boothe (Tombstone) star, Peter Hyams (Timecop) directs, and Pittsburgh Penguins owner Howard Baldwin produces. Due Dec. 22 from Universal.

‘No Safe Haven’
Concept: Die Hard on Martha’s Vineyard.
Plot: A disgraced ex-Marine redeems himself when he goes to the rescue of the President’s wife and daughter, who are being held captive by a David Koresh-like cult leader on a stormy Martha’s Vineyard.
Status: In development at Universal Pictures.

‘Off The Grid’
Concept: Die Hard at a dam.
Plot: It’s the Canadian military to the rescue when a terrorist group seizes control of the world’s largest dam and threatens to blow it sky-high.
Status: In development at the financially shaky Savoy with actor Dennis Quaid producing.

Concept: Die Hard on an oil rig.
Plot: An underwater demolitions expert fights a terrorist takeover of a deep-sea platform.
Status: Another project for producer Silver, who is again teaming with his Die Hard screenwriter Steven E. de Souza. ”If everyone else can rip off the Die Hard recipe, why not me and Joel?” says de Souza. In development at Silver Pictures.

Concept: Die Hard on a bridge.
Plot: It’s rush-hour madness as terrorists (again) take over New York City’s George Washington Bridge, threatening to detonate a bomb and kill thousands of New York-New Jersey commuters.
Status: Production is scheduled to begin in ‘96 at Paramount. Speed rewriter Joss Whedon is currently retooling his script.

‘The Rock’
Concept: Die Hard on Alcatraz.
Plot: An FBI agent and biological weapons expert teams up with a good-guy convict — the only survivor of an Alcatraz prison escape — to quash a plan to destroy San Francisco.
Status: From producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, Rock stars Sean Connery and Ed Harris. ”We have gone to great lengths to ensure the authenticity of the military drills and hardware,” says producer Bruckheimer, who says the film has hired an ex-Navy SEAL as a technical adviser. Due from Hollywood Pictures next summer.

‘Air Force One’
Concept: Die Hard on yet another 747.
Plot: Terrorists led by a disgraced ex-Navy SEAL commandeer the U.S. President’s plane — not to mention the President himself. ”The reason we’re using the President is because of Air Force One,” says producer Mimi Polk Gitlin (Thelma & Louise). ”It’s an amazing piece of machinery.”
Status: In development at Gitlin Productions.

‘Vertical Run’
Concept: Coming full circle, it’s Die Hard in a high-rise office building.
Plot: An office worker finds himself pursued by mysterious gunmen (actually government agents) who have infiltrated the skyscraper.
Status: In development at Warner with Money Train producer Jon Peters.

‘High Roller’
Concept: Die Hard in a Las Vegas casino.
Plot: A down-on-his-luck gambler and the daughter of a Vegas kingpin work together to save her kidnapped father.
Status: In development at Savoy with Under Siege’s executive producer, Gary Goldstein, and Pretty Woman screenwriter J.F. Lawton (who’s also acting as a coproducer).

‘Spy Hard’
Concept: Die Hard with laughs — à la the Naked Gun movies.
Plot: Leslie Nielsen, who will also serve as the executive producer, plays Agent WD-40 (get it?), who, with his shapely sidekick, Agent 3.14 (Knots Landing’s Nicollette Sheridan), is out to thwart evildoer General Rancor (Andy Griffith).
Status: Now filming for Disney’s Hollywood Pictures, it’s due Memorial Day ‘96. A production source insists, however, that ”except for the title, this movie bears no resemblance to Die Hard — honest!”