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Violent Night Was First Pitched As Die Hard With Santa

In "Violent Night," a group of criminals attempts to invade the home of a wealthy family, and it's up to Santa Claus himself (David Harbour) to make sure that this home invasion doesn't ruin the kids in the family's Christmas Day. When Universal Pictures premiered a lengthy trailer for "Violent Night" in October of 2022, it elicited a few comparisons to Christmas movies that have come before it.

Beverly D'Angelo portrays Gertrude, the wealthy head of the Lightstone family who owns the estate that serves as the film's central location. D'Angelo compared her "Violent Night" role to her "Christmas Vacation" character, finding Gertrude to be who Ellen from "Christmas Vacation" might have become under different circumstances.

That said, the film to which "Violent Night" is most frequently compared is "Die Hard," given that it pits a clever individual against a group invading a building. In fact, these comparisons are so widespread, Harbour weighed in on whether or not "Die Hard" is a Christmas movie while promoting "Violent Night." Furthermore, a profile of writers Pat Casey and Josh Miller published in the lead-up to the film's release revealed that "Violent Night" was initially conceived as a take on "Die Hard" with Santa as its lead character before anything else was determined about the project.

Die Hard was a part of Violent Night's DNA from day one

A couple of days before the theatrical release of "Violent Night," Entertainment Weekly profiled its screenwriters, Pat Casey and Josh Miller, who discussed exactly how the film came to be.

Casey and Miller's first big Hollywood success was landing a gig writing the first "Sonic the Hedgehog" movie. Just prior to the February 2020 wide release of "Sonic," Casey and Miller decided to figure out their next project in light of their newfound success. "We wrangled up what we thought were our best ideas, and presented them to our agents and managers, and each of them kind of had their favorites," Miller said.

During that meeting, the duo pitched a nascent idea for a movie that would resemble "Die Hard" but star Santa Claus in place of Bruce Willis' John McClane. "We'd recently been talking about what we were calling at that time 'Die Hard Santa;' we'd not even fleshed it out fully enough to have a title," Miller continued. "We just off-handedly mentioned it, and all of them unanimously were like, 'That's the one!'"

It turns out, then, that the numerous viewers who have compared "Violent Night" to "Die Hard" are spot-on, given that "Die Hard" served as a primary point of comparison back when Casey and Miller had only just come up with the film's base premise more than two years prior to its December 2, 2022 premiere.