Die hard, already, DIE HARD!

empty theatre 3I was so utterly, disgustingly, profoundly, disappointed to hear that they were making a Die Hard 5, I didn’t even care what the proposed plot was. To be honest, I thought the whole idea was just a rumor, then when I saw the trailer, I really thought it was a bad Saturday Night Live sketch or some kind of joke that I just didn’t get. Well, it is true that there does exist a Die Hard 5, and it also appears that I’m not the only one who thinks it’s a real stinkeroo. A quick Google Search of “Die Hard 5 Reviews” will show you what I mean.

This is a sad example of how a line extension can sometimes be the worst thing that can be done to a brand. A brand has a successful fan following, so the marketer tries to milk its appeal at every possible opportunity, only to end up alienating the original target audience and sometimes, as is the case here, to end up utterly humiliating itself!

As you may have guessed, this bitter, spiteful, jaded, hurtful tone you are hearing is from a long-time fan of the franchise.  I feel hurt and betrayed. Excuse me while I lift one hand from the keyboard to dab a tear. I loved the original Die Hard. It was one of the first movies I actually bought on VHS (ask your grandparents what VHS was, kids) so I could watch it again and again. It was a great film not only because it was an original addition to the entire action genre, but because it was a great story featuring great characters portrayed by great actors, from Bruce Willis to even the most minor supporting characters. The original owns a well-deserved place in motion picture history.

The movie spawned a whole bunch of imitators, which could also be considered line-extensions of the whole “Die-Hard premise”  like Passenger 227 (Die Hard on an airplane), Under Siege (Die Hard on a battleship), Under Siege 2 (Die Hard on a train), Speed (Die Hard on a bus), Speed 2 (Die Hard on a cruise ship), and the list goes on today. There was even a Die Hard 2 a couple of years after the original that put our hero, John McClain in a similar situation where he had to save the day, and he even managed to work in a joke or two about it in the storyline, like, “How can the same thing happen to the same guy twice?” so we, the audience, got to be in on the gag, which kind of made doing the sequel OK.

Unlike many of my friends, I even hung on through Die Hard 3. I thought it was a decent flick, made so by a strong contributing performance by Samuel L. Jackson. Had the franchise Yipee-ki-yayed into the sunset at that point, I think a respectful salute would have been in order.

Watching Die Hard 4, however, was just a pathetic, downright painful, waste of my time. “Die Greedy,” I think it was called, because all that really got accomplished with that movie was that Bruce Willis picked up another paycheck.

And now there’s 5. I honestly don’t know what to say about this. I still think it’s gotta be some kind of cruel joke. To be fair, I’ll probably watch it if there is a way I can see it basically for free (Thank you, Netflix!), but there ain’t no way you’ll see me in line to spend $10 at the theater on this thing.

Moral of the story – Stick to your original target audience, don’t spread the brand too thin!