‘Die Hard’ Director John McTiernan to Shoot WWII Film in China

The former A-list director will take on a Sino-American World War II story as his first project in years.

John McTiernan, director of such blockbusters as Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October and Predator, has resurfaced in China, where he has told local media he intends to make a WWII feature there — his first film since being released from prison in 2014.

McTiernan said he will be making a film about the aftermath of the Doolittle Raid bombing raid on Tokyo in 1942, in an interview with Tencent Entertainment given in Shanghai and published Tuesday. Shooting is expected to start next year in China.

The opportunity will no doubt be a welcome second chance for the director whom The Hollywood Reporter described in June as one of a few other Hollywood figures “so despised” that he “won’t be welcomed back in the industry anytime soon.”

The helmer fell off Hollywood’s radar after he served a prison sentence in 2013 for lying to the FBI about hiring former private investigator Anthony Pellicano to wiretap producer Charles Roven.

The director served 328 days in a minimum-security prison camp in South Dakota, after which he began fighting with First Interstate Bank over the foreclosure of his 3,254-acre Wyoming ranch. He declared bankruptcy while in prison. In April, the Die Hard director filed court papers that indicated his family was “emigrating.”

Hollywood and Hong Kong veteran producer André Morgan will be producing the WWII feature through his Ruddy Morgan Organization, according to Tencent Entertainment.

Morgan has extensive experience in the Chinese film market, having lived and worked there for decades. Past projects of his include The White Countess (伯爵夫人) starring Ralph Fiennes and Vanessa Redgrave in 2005 and The Warlords (投名状) starring Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro in 2007.

Morgan told Tencent Entertainment he had originally given McTiernan two scripts to consider. The first was about the “Flying Tigers,” also known as the American Volunteer Group, who aided the Chinese Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek against the Japanese during WWII.

The second script, which McTiernan agreed too, is about the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo in 1942, when a small force of American planes bombed Japan for the first time and were rescued by civilians after crash-landing in China.

The project joins an ever-growing list of films about US-China cooperation during World War II. In late February, HAN Capital’s John Liu announced he had raised US$500 million to finance Chinese film and TV projects including In The Times Of Locusts that focuses on the aftermath of the Doolittle Raid.

CFI Interview: HAN Capital’s John Liu on the Movies He’ll Make with $500M

That was was followed by news in April, that Oscar-nominee Bruce Beresford will direct a $100 million Chinese co-production about the same bombing attack called The Doolittle Raid.

Beresford to Pilot $100M China Co-Pro on American Raid on Tokyo in WWII

Other similar projects include The Flying Tigers, a joint project between Los Angeles-based Skydance and Alibaba Pictures.

It’s not the first time McTiernan has shown his face since his release from prison. Earlier this year, the director gave an interview to Premiere France in which he talked about a possible project he was looking to make with a French producer in France or Serbia.

McTiernan is not the only Die Hard director to end up in China. Renny Harlin, director of Die Hard 2, made his directorial debut in China with the action comedy Skiptrace, starring Jackie Chan, and he is now based permanently in Beijing where he was set up a production company.