20th Century Fox has a little tradition at its studios in Century City: giant murals on the sides of their buildings, reflecting famous movies in their library. There’s one for The Empire Strikes Back, another for The Sound of Music, one of Marilyn Monroe’s famous sewer grate shot in The Seven-Year Itch and so on. They’re kind of a big deal because until Thursday there were only five of them. And yet there was always a sixth film hovering in the air – not a mural, but an inescapable visual cue nonetheless. No matter where you go on the lot, you can see the high-rise Fox Tower just to the northeast… a building that millions of moviegoers know as Nakatomi Plaza from the original Die Hard.
It seems only fitting then, that Fox would formalize that implicit visual cue with a sixth mural, this one honoring the Die Hard franchise which celebrates its 25th anniversary this July. The event took place with all of the pomp and circumstance that Hollywood could provide, complete with explosives, red carpet paparazzi and star Bruce Willis to oversee the unveiling. The star appeared overwhelmed and humbled as he fired the detonator to release the mural’s cover, with his daughters Tallulah and Rumer in attendance, as well as the cast and crew of the new film. The explosions were loud enough to set off every car alarm in the nearby parking lot.
Afterwards, guests were treated to a screening of A Good Day to Die Hard, followed by a party at “Nakatomi Plaza.” Sadly, they didn’t have the party site dressed up like the Christmas party from the movie (that was actually shot on a set). Instead, it took place on the 31st floor, where John McClane hunkered down for the bulk of the film.
It’s telling that Fox would choose to honor the franchise in this way. They have their share of classics and yet comparatively few of them have earned the same right; you need more than box office to make a studio strut like they did Thursday. Die Hard appears to be an enduring part of the Fox canon, and with the mural unveiling, they’ve backed up its status as something greater than just a reliable money maker.
The fifth entry in the Die Hard franchise, A Good Day to Die Hard, opens on February 14th.