The good news is no one will ever have to debate about whether or not it’s a Christmas movie–producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura has confirmed that his proposed Die Hard prequel movie, McClane, will not be moving forward at Disney.
Polygon broke the news yesterday after speaking with di Bonaventura about Snake Eyes. “Yeah, no, it’s not happening,” the producer said about the proposed sixth installment of the popular action franchise, adding “it was a project that wasn’t Die Hard that then, eventually, shifted over to Die Hard.” Di Bonaventura didn’t give any specific reasons as to why Disney gave its thumbs down on what would have been the sixth Die Hard film, while adding that he doesn’t know what the studio intends to do with the property.
What may fuel speculation in the days to come is a story that made its way around the web late last year that Charlize Theron is interested in rebooting Die Hard and casting herself a lesbian lead. The idea originated with Twitter user Francis O, and it was a pitch that Theron — who proved her action hero chops with 2020’s The Old Guard — seemed to like.
While the earliest reports suggested McClane would have been a prequel film, what di Bonaventura told Polygon suggests that isn’t completely true. He compared the story to the 1974 gangster epic The Godfather: Part II which switches its point of view several times between Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) in 1958, to his father Vito (Robert De Niro) as his criminal career begins. Di Bonaventura said that part of the canceled Die Hard film would likewise take place in the 1970s with a new actor playing John McClane, while Willis would reprise the role of McClane in scenes set closer to the present day.
Deadline reported the film was in development in 2015, with Len Wiseman — who also directed 2007’s Live Free or Die Hard — attached as director. The project was originally being called Die Hard Year One, fueling rumors it would be based on the 2009 BOOM! Studios comic book mini-series of the same name written by Howard Chaykin with art by Stuart Thompson.
In March 2018, The Tracking Board claimed that The Conjuring screenwriters Chad and Carey Hayes had been tapped to rewrite the script. That September, per ScreenRant, the title was changed to McClane. Later that month, Variety reported that Tobey Maguire had been added to the production team. News about McClane continued to trickle into the rotation, including earlier this year, when reports suggested Bruce Willis was interested in returning to his Die Hard hero.
While McClane initially had nothing to do with Die Hard, as Polygon points out, it would hardly have been the first time John McClane was inserted into a story not originally meant for the reluctant hero. The 1990 sequel Die Hard 2 is based on Walter Wager’s 1987 novel 58 Minutes, while the story that ultimately became 1995’s Die Hard with a Vengeance began its life as an original action concept acquired by Warner Bros., retooled for the Lethal Weapon franchise, and finally sold to Fox where it was made over for Die Hard. In fact, even the very first film–1988’s Die Hard–is based on the 1979 Roderick Thorp novel Nothing Last Forever whose protagonist is Joe Leland instead of the iconic John McClane.