New York Film Locations

Die Hard 3 Revisit

11 December 2018

The film “Die Hard With a Vengeance” starring Bruce Willis and Samuel L Jackson will be revisited this month. The action flick which was released to cinema audiences in 1995 was one of the first films to have been posted on otsoNY and though it received mixed reviews, it still managed to become the second highest-grossing film at the worldwide Box Office that year.

The filmmakers decided to shoot the entire film in New York City rather than opting for Toronto purely on the basis that they thought Toronto, which often stands in for New York to keep costs down, didn’t quite work because the people seemed wrong and didn’t move like New Yorkers on the street. The film’s opening sequence, where terrorist Simon’s attention-grabbing bomb destroys a Bonwit Teller department store was one of the first scenes shot. Bonwit Teller had just gone out of business, so the production team decided to use their name. An almost empty building on lower Sixth Avenue stood in for Bonwits with twenty five windows rigged to explode on cue with seven cameras positioned around the set to capture the explosive moment, which was shot on a very early Sunday morning, so not to cause too much disruption to the resides of New York. However, even with the planning in place and the support of the City of New York and the NYPD, the shoot caused more disruption than most Manhattanities cared to endure.

The production’s biggest crowd control challenge came when they closed off Ninth Avenue between 57th and 42nd streets to film the scene where John McClane played by Bruce Willis and Zeus played by Samuel L Jackson race across town in their taxicab, following in the slipstream of an ambulance. A camera helicopter flew overhead with the ambulance, taxicab and other background cars driving in real traffic. Willis did not drive the taxi in these scenes, despite being behind the wheel. The vehicle had been augmented to withstand all of the required stunt work with a seat, accelerator, brakes and steering wheel all fitted to its trunk allowing a stunt driver to take full control from behind. With the driver hidden from view, Menzies and his camera team were able to squeeze into the cab and shoot Willis and Jackson in the front seats. With the taxi then driving through Central Park, the stunt crew, led by stunt coordinator and second unit director Terry Leonard portrayed the joggers, cyclists and inline skaters who dodge the vechicle as it ploughed its way along the bridal paths and hilly mounds.

For the crucial scenes at the Federal Reserve Bank, Jackson De Govia and his team were allowed to tour the real building in Lower Manhattan, including the vaults where gold bullion was kept. Fortunately, the institution’s officials had no security qualms regarding the film as their reaction to the script was that the film’s scenario would never work. Naturally, the production was not allowed to shoot at the Federal Reserve Bank, so interior set was built in an abandoned bank on Wall Street. A vault was also constructed, complete with hundreds of Styrofoam gold bricks, in an abandoned industrial plant in New Jersey. The aftermath of the collapse of the Wall Street subway station was also shot in the Garden State. Just across from the Federal Reserve, De Govia commandeered a vacant lot to create a small public park where Simon impersonates a city engineer as he ships in his heavy-duty machinery to break into the bank.

Scenes were also filmed in the New York subway system, including the sequence in which McClane searches the subway train for Simon’s bomb.


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