‘Die Hard’ a Yuletide Film? A Split Verdict from Half of U.S. Citizens, Unveils New Yahoo News/YouGov Survey.

Surpassing 35 years since its debut in July of 1988, the answer to one of the festive season’s most hotly contested queries – whether Die Hard is a Yuletide film – might have been unearthed.

For generations, spectators have eagerly debated the classification of the thriller detailing the saga of an off-duty detective, John McClane (Bruce Willis), who finds himself at his estranged spouse’s work Christmas soiree which is hijacked by European villains, as a part of the Yuletide lineup.


Nearly 35 years later, the Yahoo/YouGov survey might reveal whether Die Hard counts as a Christmas film. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photo: 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)

According to the latest Yahoo/YouGov inquiry, a half of participants say Die Hard does not qualify as a Christmas movie, while a smaller group, 26%, believe it does, and another 23% remain uncertain.

A larger majority of Americans concur that motion pictures like Home Alone and A Christmas Story are preferred seasonal staples, with 34% declaring they revisit the Macaulay Culkin hit annually during the Christmas season, and 33% returning to the cherished account of a youngster and his BB gun.

The contention surrounding Die Hard as a Christmas movie seems settled — or does it? (Yahoo News)The contention surrounding Die Hard as a Christmas movie seems settled — or does it? (Yahoo News)

The controversy over Die Hard as a Yuletide film appears concluded — or is it? (Yahoo News)

Ranking lowest on the survey? Die Hard. Merely 14% of the questioned audience mention they will be tuning into Die Hard this festive period. Nonetheless, this might shift following the announcement by AMC Theatres that they are bringing back the movie to their screens from Dec. 8. Yippee ki-yay.

Criteria for a Christmas Movie?

Pamela Rutledge, the head of the Media Psychology Research Center, comments that festive films are embedded in tradition and reminiscence, resonating with “the good ol’ days” when life was “less complicated, kinder, and more leisurely.”

“The neural pathways of the mind are peculiar,” she conveyed to Yahoo Entertainment. “It often recalls jubilant times with a sprinkle of magic, intensifying the brightness and augmenting the delight in recalling joyful remembrances. [Seasonal favorites] transform into yearly traditions, signifying the Yuletide just as much as Christmas tunes flooding the mall.”

Yahoo UK offers a couple of criteria to discern a holiday movie:

1. Does viewing the film outside the Yuletide season seem odd? If no, then it presumably isn’t a Christmas movie.

2. If you remove Christmas from the plot, does the narrative still hold? If affirmative, then it likely isn’t a Christmas tale.

So, what’s the verdict regarding Die Hard?

Determining Die Hard’s Placement in the Christmas Genre

First off, Die Hard unfolds on the night before Christmas.

The movie also presents numerous festive subtleties throughout. Film data specialist Stephen Follows catalogued a total of 21 Yuletide hints dispersed within, inclusive of the swathes of paper draping downThe tower, akin to snow crystals, along with an abundance of merry chuckles and Father Christmas headgear, set a festive tone. The movie’s accompaniment features three Yuletide melodies, inclusive of Run-DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis.”

Die Hard incorporates essential elements of a festal film: “Renewing familial bonds,” and “the quest for a solitary hero,” thus, it’s obviously a festive film, penned Josh Sinclair, featured in Men’s Health.

“Sacrifice for kin and community is evident. Desire the unwrapping of gifts? McClane’s firearm is engulfed in Christmas tape on his torso, prior to dispatching a bullet to Hans [Gruber]. Crave a touch of the sacred? McClane emerges triumphant after beseeching divine intervention — additionally, he utters ‘Jesus Christ!’ with notable frequency in the movie,” elucidated James Hibberd, an Entertainment Weekly editor.


Jan de Bont, Die Hard‘s director of photography, mentioned it’s rather “stretched” to adorn the summer sensation with a Yuletide tag.

“To be candid, I’m skeptical if that film fully captures the Yuletide spirit,” de Bont conveyed to Yahoo Entertainment in a dialogue from 2020. Nevertheless, he harbors no animosity towards those holding a contrary stance. “I completely understand. It’s quite amusing,” he admitted.

Bruce Willis as John McClaneBruce Willis as John McClane

Bruce Willis as John McClane in the1988 smash hit Die Hard. (20th Century Fox/Everett Collection)

In line with that sentiment, he did reminisce that the atmosphere on set was in keeping with the holiday.

“We were engaging in production around the holiday season in winter, and it was bitingly cold,” recounted de Bont.

While the project’s helmsman, John McTiernan, acknowledged Die Hard wasn’t crafted with the intent of becoming a seasonal hit — having premiered as a summer box office draw in 1988 — he does admit that audience affection has deemed it thus.

“It’s beyond our determination, it’s up to the people. The viewers get to decide,” he expressed in an interaction with Empire, a cinema enthusiast’s podcast, back in August 2022. “It was not produced as a Yuletide movie, nor the reality that it was intentionally set against a Christmas background, but not designed to be a Christmas movie.

What’s the viewpoint of the leading star? Willis himself addressed and clarified this misconception during his Comedy Central toast in 2018.

“Heed this with precision: Die Hard isn’t a Christmas movie! It’s a bona fide Bruce Willis film. So, yippee ki-yay to every last one of you,” he exclaimed.


The Yahoo Entertainment poll was carried out by YouGov, using a statistically representative cohort of 1,675 U.S. denizens queried online between Nov. 9 and Nov. 13, 2023. The sampling procedure was adjusted for variables like sex, age, ethnicity, scholastic background, 2020 electoral participation and presidential choice, baseline partisan alignment, and present voter enrollment status. Demographical weighting benchmarks derive from the 2019 U.S. Community Survey. Baseline partisan identity is based on the most updated response before Nov. 1, 2022, and aligns with the distribution projected at that time (33% Democrat, 27% Republican). Participants were chosen from YouGov’s voluntary panel to mirror the larger U.S. adult populace. The estimated margin of error is roughly 2.8%.

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