In the pages of this weeks issue of The Hollywood Reporter sits a full-page ad taken out by one Eric D. Wilkinson. “I am a producer and writer of independent movies,” it begins. “I withdrew money I don’t really have from my savings to reach out today to tell you that I love the movie Die Hard. Let me say that again...I LOVE DIE HARD.”
What follows are hundreds of words from a professed “crazy addict” of the Die Hard films, detailing where the franchise went wrong and outlining how it might right its course for the forthcoming Die Hard: Year One prequel, which was announced last month. Wilkinson even pitches Bruce Willis and the filmmakers attached to the project on his own Die Hard script, which centers on a 60-year-old current-day John McClane who is imprisoned for murdering a sex trafficker he investigated way back in 1979. Of course, McClane did not actually commit the killing and must find a way back to freedom. If he ends up kicking some terrorist ass along the way, so be it. Yipee ki-yay, motherfucker!
Reached at the telephone number attached to the advertisement, Wilkinson told me he spent the money “as a Christmas present to myself.” He’s had some success in the film industry—he produced a 2007 sci-fi film called The Man From Earth that found a cult following—but took the ad out mostly as a fan, simply because he wants to see a new Die Hard film that lives up to the original’s high standards.
Wilkinson didn’t care to divulge exactly how much money he spent but said that it was in the thousands of dollars—not pocket change for a small-time filmmaker like himself. “If I had Bruce Willis money, it would be like 20 bucks to me. But to me, it was expensive,” he said. Lori Copeland, an advertising executive at THR, also declined to give a dollar amount, but said that the magazine generally gives individuals or small businesses who buy advertising a lower rate than what it charges major movie studios. “He got a good deal,” she said. “If other people want to do it, give me a call!”
Read the full text of Wilkinson’s ad followed by our brief conversation below.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What motivated you to take out the ad? It sounds like you’re a lifelong Die Hard fan.
Yeah, who isn’t? Those movies kick ass, and I want them to kick ass again. It’s as simple as that.
How realistic do you think it is that this movie will actually get made? Do you have a script ready if Bruce Willis comes calling?
Oh, I’m not going to hear from them. My chances are slim to none. Realistically, I don’t believe that Bruce Willis, or [producer] Lorenzo di Boneventura, or [director] Len Wiseman are going to call a writer without representation, and say “Sure, take our million-dollar franchise.” Would I love the opportunity to get in a room with those guys and really talk in detail about my idea? Absolutely. But realistically, this is going to trend for a couple days, and then I’m going to back to doing what it is that I do.
I have material, but bear in mind that it’s only been two or three weeks ago that Len Wiseman and Lorenzo di Boneventura announced that they were making Die Hard: Year One. I have a treatment. I have a story, as you can see. I didn’t reveal everything. There’s a lot of really cool stuff, and a lot of great ideas. There’s more to it.
If it’s not going to happen, why spend the money to take out the ad?
Because at the end of the day, I just want them to make a really cool Die Hard movie. I’m a fan. I’m no different from anybody else that sits behind their computer and sounds off ideas for good movies. The only difference is I said, “To hell with it, I’m going to take money out of my savings and do this.”
It’s a demonstration of my passion. Listen, I’m a fan. There’s Star Wars fans, Back to the Future fans who build their own time machines, you know? I’m a Die Hard fan, and I said, ‘You know what, I just want them to make a good Die Hard movie. Here’s my idea, what do you think?”
Do you have any casting ideas?
Some people have told me Joseph-Gordon Levitt for the young John McClane, since he played young Bruce Willis before. I guess that would be cool. I really don’t have any casting ideas. Other than Bruce Willis has to play John McClane.
Anything else you want to share about yourself?
I don’t want to give too much personal information. People should know this isn’t some wacky get-rich scheme. I’m a fan, man. I’m a die-hard Die Hard fan.