Posted on Wednesday, March 15th, 2017 by Fred Topel
In Die Hard 2, John McClane (Bruce Willis) found himself trapped in a bigger building, Dulles Airport, with hundreds of more people at risk than the original hostage situation he thwarted in Die Hard. To show the new terrorists are even deadlier than the Nakatomi thieves, Col. Stuart (William Sadler) crashes a plane full of passengers when his demands are not met.
Screenwriter Steven E. de Souza revealed that the studio filmed a second plane crash sequence. Why did they do this? Find out after the jump.
Speaking at a 30th-anniversary screening of his film The Running Man, de Souza revealed that the studio wanted to hedge their bets on the collateral damage, and thus shot a second plane crash in which far fewer innocent people would die, just in case.
“In fact, the studio insisted,” de Souza said. “They said, ‘You can’t kill all those people. We’ll lose the audience. It has to be a UPS plane.’ They actually spent money and they filmed a model UPS plane crashing as a fallback position in case the audience left the theater when we crashed the plane after we put the seat belt on the little girl’s teddy bear. Only two people died, a lot of packages are gone.”
It’s surprising that this alternate footage has not shown up on any Die Hard 2 DVDs or Blu-rays. A test audience ensured that the version of Die Hard 2 we all know today made it to the screen.
“Fortunately the audience loved the movie at the test screening and we kept it in,” de Souza said. “For a while, if you didn’t count George Lucas blowing up Princess Leia’s planet, that was the highest body count movie because of the plane crash with imaginary people in it.”
There was an important reason de Souza wanted to show such mass casualties. Die Hard presented McClane as an everyman hero. Having survived Nakatomi made it more difficult to believe McClane was in any real danger in future adventures. If McClane’s triumph was a given, he could still struggle and fail, to save other lives.
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“Since then he’s become a superhero in the sequels,” de Souza said. “In fact, in the first sequel, in order to try and get that vulnerability in there, that’s why I crashed the plane. We knew he’d live because of the first movie, but I had to have him have big, colossal failures. That’s why I invented his desperate attempt to signal the plane.”