Die Hard director John McTiernan has confirmed that the iconic 1988 film is, in fact, a Christmas movie. McTiernan discussed how the film came to be accepted as a Christmas movie by so many of its fans in a recent interview with the American Film Institute.
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The director says the film was actually inspired by the 1946 Christmas classic It’s A Wonderful Life:
“Specifically, the Pottersville sequence,” McTiernan says. “Which is what happens when the evil banker gets to do what he wants in the community without George getting in the way to stop it. And it’s the clearest demonstration and criticism of runaway, unregulated cowboy capitalism that’s ever been done in an American movie.”
Despite being inspired by It’s A Wonderful Life, McTiernan says no one intended Die Hard to be regarded as a Christmas movie: “We hadn’t intended [Die Hard] to be a Christmas movie. But the joy that came from it is what turned it into a Christmas movie. And that’s really the best I can tell you about it.”
Whether Die Hard should be considered a Christmas movie has been a long-debated topic for film fans. A trailer for the movie even called it “greatest Christmas story” in 2020.