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OUTTAKES

High-Rising Career

July 17, 1988|Pat H. Broeske \f7

In the initial ads and posters for "Die Hard," Bruce Willis loomed large. This evolved into ads showing a blazing building--and Willis' name in teensy type. Now the new campaign has Willis sharing billing with the building, and his name is again prominent.

Said 20th Century Fox domestic distribution/marketing president Tom Sherak, "No way, shape or form are we trying to hide Bruce Willis."

The film opened Friday to hefty word of mouth and dynamite reviews.

We had figured that when the sun set on Bruce's earlier pic, "Sunset" (it grossed a measly $5 million), that it might have something to do with Willis' shrinking profile. Plus, we received reports of audiences hissing his image during preview trailers. (A rep for a major theater chain said he yanked the trailers "because they (the audience) groaned and moaned so much when Willis came on.")

Sherak acknowledged, "I did hear audiences in Westwood didn't like it." But the changes came when Fox execs saw the film and "realized we had a kind of action epic on our hands--and that the building (Century City's Fox Plaza tower) was a star too."

Thus, the new ads and a new trailer, "where you can't miss Willis."

And: "You'll be seeing Willis talking about the film on Oprah and Johnny Carson and with David Letterman. And he did a two-parter for 'Today.' Not exactly what you'd call downplaying a star."

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