Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: After a long search process, 20th Century Fox and Bruce Willis have just chosen John Moore to direct Die Hard 5. The film will shoot in Russia, and the hope is to make it before Willis moves on to shoot a Red sequel for Summit Entertainment. In fact, Willis has just begun going through the same director search with Summit on a sequel to the 2010 hit Red. Robert Schwentke is busy helming Universal’s R.I.P.D. with Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds. They’ve just begun casting the dragnet for directors on that film. Names like Breck Eisner are being floated, but other shooters are being considered.

As for Die Hard 5, Moore is in final negotiations and was in the running through the entire search as Fox tried to find a filmmaker that pleased Willis and the studio execs that have to shoot this movie in Russia and bring it in on a budget and a tight schedule. Fox has been looking for a new director since Noam Murro left the picture after he got the job helming 300: Battle Of Artemisia for Warner Bros. The studio started with a wish list of directors to helm the script by Skip Woods that included Joe Cornish (who directed Attack the Block), Fast Five helmer Justin Lin, Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn, and Moore. More recently, I’d heard Fox had conversations with helmers that included Gary Fleder, Paul McGuigan and 1408 helmer Mikael Hafstrom.

Moore didn’t have to necessarily sell Fox; the studio loves the Irishman. But he did have to convince Willis, who has been very hands-on in the selection of Die Hard directors. Moore and Willis had long meetings and Willis was swayed by Moore’s love for the John McClane character, and his grasp of how to shoot practical, non-CGI-heavy action scenes that have been a hallmark of the Die Hard series.

Moore has directed all of his films at Fox: Behind Enemy Lines, Flight of the Phoenix, The Omen and Max Payne. He hasn’t yet scored a blockbuster — only The Omen crossed $100 million in worldwide grosses — but he certainly has a shot at one now. Even though the first film launched Willis’ star way back in 1988, the series has been remarkably resilient. The most recent installment, Live Free Or Die Hard, grossed $384 million worldwide on a budget reported to be $100 million. I’m told that the studio hopes to make this film in that range. Moore’s repped by CAA.