The Moment When Bruce Willis Became a Megastar
Bruce Willis in his star-making role in 'Die Hard' (Photo Credit: Everett)
Yippee-ki-yay, you-know-the-rest: Bruce Willis, movie star, is turning 25.
It was on July 15, 1988, that "Die Hard," following the release pattern of a little art-house drama called "Star Wars," debuted in 21 theaters. From the modest launch, the film went on a blockbuster run that brought in more than $80 million, the equivalent of $160 million today, per BoxOfficeMojo.com stats.
For action-movie fans, "Die Hard," clever, funny, and with a refreshingly mortal hero, was deliverance from the death grips of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger; for Willis, then in his "Hollywood bad boy" phase as much as his "Moonlighting" phase, it was the answer to those who questioned whether the actor's career as a leading man was over before it had barely begun.
[Related: Five Film Facts: One for each ‘Die Hard’]
Here's a look back at the game-changing summer that got Willis in the game for good:
The Big Four: In a season in which the box office scored record success, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," "Coming to America," "Big," and "Crocodile Dundee II" each grossed more than $100 million — and, mind you, this was back when grossing more than $100 million required weeks of hard work and, with ticket prices averaging only $4.11, lots of customers.
And No, We Didn't Mention... "Die Hard." And that's because as successful as the movie was, it never reached No. 1 at the weekend box office. (For the summer, it ranked as the fifth-biggest hit.)
Click Through for More Summer-of-1988 Flashback:
Tom Cruise as bartender extraordinaire in 'Cocktail' (Photo credit: Everett)
The Brat Pack: Even with the success of the Emilio Estevez-led "Young Guns," the media-created gang was breaking up. Rob Lowe's "Illegally Yours" barely qualified for a release; Tom Cruise, who scored big with "Cocktail," continued to deny having ever been a member. ("I haven't even seen a lot of those movies since 'Risky Business,'" Cruise told the press at the time.)
It's Official: Audiences Have No Taste: The song "Kokomo," from "Cocktail" and, come the fall of '88, an episode of "Full House," hit No. 1 on the U.S. pop charts, becoming a bigger-selling Beach Boys single than "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "California Girls," "Good Vibrations," and every other actually good Beach Boys single.