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Theatrical release poster

Demolition Man is a 1993 American science fiction action film, directed by Marco Brambilla. The film stars Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock, Nigel Hawthorne, and Denis Leary.[1]

In the film, Taco Bell is the last remaining chain restaurant in the world, having been the lone survivor of the Franchise Wars. It is presented as a fine dining establishment, complete with valet parking and a dance floor.


In 1996, psychopathic career criminal Simon Phoenix kidnaps a number of hostages, and takes refuge with his gang in an abandoned building. LAPD Sgt. John Spartan uses a thermal scan of the building; finding no trace of the hostages, he leads an unauthorized assault to capture Phoenix. Phoenix sets off a series of explosives that demolish the building, and the hostages’ corpses are found in the rubble; Phoenix claims Spartan knew about the hostages and attacked anyway. Both men are incarcerated in the city's new "California Cryo-Penitentiary", where they are cryogenically frozen and exposed to subliminal rehabilitation techniques.

In 2032, Phoenix is thawed for a parole hearing. However, he inexplicably knows the password to release his restraints, and he kills the guards and escapes. Lieutenant Lenina Huxley has Spartan thawed to help stop Phoenix. She explains to Spartan that San Angeles—a metropolis that combines the former Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Barbara—is a peaceful utopia, and the police are no longer equipped to deal with violent crime. Spartan finds the new future depressing and oppressive; human behavior is tightly controlled, physical contact and swearing are illegal, and anything else deemed "bad" is also banned. Likewise, others on the police force find Spartan's behavior brutish and uncivilized.

Spartan anticipates that Phoenix will attempt to secure firearms. He and Huxley head to a museum and find Phoenix already there. Phoenix escapes with the weapons and encounters Dr. Raymond Cocteau, the evangelistic pseudo-pacifist who has been running San Angeles since the "Great Earthquake" of 2010, which had also killed John Spartan's wife while he was frozen. To his confusion, Phoenix finds that he is unable to shoot Cocteau, who reveals that he had orchestrated Phoenix's escape all along, implanting the password to the restraints and the knowledge of how to operate the futuristic technology of San Angeles. As a safety measure, Cocteau also implanted a command that prevents Phoenix from harming him. Cocteau wants Phoenix to assassinate Edgar Friendly, the leader of a resistance group called the Scraps, which resists his rule and live in the sewers, still in possession of firearms, meat, alcohol, and other illegal products and practices.

Spartan and Huxley witness this exchange on security cameras and review the cryo-prison records. To their shock, they find that Phoenix's rehabilitation program has been replaced with combat training programs and the information necessary for his escape. Spartan meets with the Scraps in time to ward off an attack by Phoenix and other criminals who have been thawed out of cryo-sleep to help assassinate Friendly. Phoenix taunts Spartan, revealing that he had killed the 1996 hostages before setting off the bomb, meaning Spartan has spent 36 years in prison for no reason. Phoenix escapes, and Spartan arms himself with help from the Scraps.

Phoenix returns to Dr. Cocteau with his men, and has one of them kill Cocteau, as they had no command against it. They return to the cryo-prison and begin to thaw out more convicts. While the Scraps rally to clear the city of the remaining criminals, Spartan enters the prison alone to fight Phoenix, heavily damaging the facility in the process. He uses the cryogenic chemical to freeze and kill Phoenix by kicking his frozen head off. Spartan escapes the prison as it explodes, killing the rest of the frozen inmates. The police fear that the loss of Cocteau and the cryo-prison will end society as they know it, but Spartan suggests that they and the Scraps work together to combine the best aspects of order and personal freedom. He then kisses Huxley and the two go off together.


  • Sylvester Stallone as Detective Sergeant Jonathan "John" Spartan
  • Wesley Snipes as Simon Phoenix
  • Sandra Bullock as Lieutenant Lenina Huxley
  • Nigel Hawthorne as Dr. Raymond Cocteau
  • Benjamin Bratt as Officer Alfredo Garcia
  • Denis Leary as Edgar Friendly
  • Rob Schneider as Erwin (uncredited)
  • Jack Black as Wasteland Scrap
  • Bill Cobbs as Zachary Lamb
  • Bob Gunton as Chief George Earle
  • Paul Perri as Squad Leader
  • Pat Skipper as Helicopter Pilot
  • Glenn Shadix as Associate Bob
  • Trent Walker as Boggle Guard
  • Troy Evans as Tough Cop
  • Grand L. Bush as Young Zachary Lamb
  • Steve Kahan as Captain Healy
  • Andre Gregory as Warden William Smithers
  • Jesse Ventura as Adam, Cryocon Ally
  • Brandy Ledfor as "Wrong Number" Video Phone Girl

Cast notes[]

  • Jack Black played one of the wasteland scraps in the underground scene, who flinches when John shoves the gun out of his face and says, "And Cocteau's an asshole!".[2]
  • An uncredited Rob Schneider played Erwin, one of the operators in the San Angeles Police control room; he would also play opposite Stallone in Judge Dredd.[3]
  • Sandra Bullock replaced original actress Lori Petty in the role of Lenina Huxley after a few days filming.[4] Her character's name is a reference to Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World, and Lenina Crowne, a character in Brave New World.[5]
  • Originally, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal were offered lead roles in the movie.[6] The role of Simon Phoenix was also offered to Jackie Chan.[7]


General Motors provided the production team with 18 concept vehicles, including the Ultralite concept vehicle. More than 20 fiberglass replicas of the Ultralite were produced to portray civilian and SAPD patrol vehicles in the film. After filming had completed, the remaining Ultralites were returned to Michigan as part of GM's concept vehicle fleet.[8] The movie also features a 1970 Oldsmobile 442 in its chase scene. The Oldsmobile brand is featured prominently in the film (including a scene involving an Oldsmobile dealership), becoming an unintentional anachronism due to the Oldsmobile brand's discontinuation in 2004.

For some non-American releases, references to Taco Bell were changed to Pizza Hut. This includes dubbing, plus changing the logos during post-production. Taco Bell remains in the closing credits. In the Swedish release the subtitles still use Taco Bell while the sound and picture has been altered as above. The original version released in Australia (on VHS) contained Taco Bell, yet the newer version on DVD was changed both in logo and dubbing to Pizza Hut (in the scene where the restaurant patrons are looking through the glass windows to the fight scene outside, Taco Bell can be seen etched into the glass, even in the modified version).

In one scene, Phoenix makes a comment about serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer being one of the cryo-inmates. Since this movie was made before his death in prison in 1994, in this alternate time period, he had been frozen with all the other criminals that were deemed too dangerous. Later versions of the film have this comment deleted.

Hungarian science fiction writer István Nemere claims that most of Demolition Man is based on his novel Holtak harca (Fight of the Dead), published in 1986. In the novel, a terrorist and his enemy, a counter-terrorism soldier are cryogenically frozen and awakened in the 22nd century, when violence was purged from society. Nemere claimed that a committee proved that 75% of the film is identical to the book. However, Nemere chose not to initiate a lawsuit, as it would have been too expensive for him to hire a lawyer and fight against major Hollywood forces in the United States. The author claims that Hollywood had ripped-off works of many Eastern European writers after the fall of the Iron Curtain, and that he knows the person he claims to be responsible for illegally selling his idea to the filmmakers.[9]


The theme song to the film called "Demolition Man" is played over the end credits. It is a remix (heavier version) of the song originally recorded by Grace Jones and written by Sting during his time as front man for the Police. The song was first released in March 1981, as an advance single from Jones' 5th album Nightclubbing. Sting released an EP featuring this song and other live tracks, entitled Demolition Man.

Acclaimed composer Elliot Goldenthal composed the score for the film. It was his second big Hollywood project after the Alien³ score.


By 2032, toilet paper has fallen out of use; a set of three seashells is provided in every toilet stall. Though their method of use is left unexplained in the movie and is instead left to the viewer's imagination, Stallone later suggested a possible method in an interview as told to him by one of the film's writers involving extraction with two and scraping with one.[10]


The film received mixed to positive reviews, maintaining a 63% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 32 reviews. However, the film scored a 34 / 100 on Metacritic, based on 9 reviews.[11][12][13]

On Siskel & Ebert, Gene Siskel gave the movie thumbs down, criticizing its violence, but did praise its "funny offbeat script." Roger Ebert praised the movie and said, "Unlike so many other movies of its genre, it really does have a satiric angle to it."

The film debuted at No. 1 at the box office.[14][15][16][17] Demolition Man grossed $58,055,768 by the end of its box office run in North America and $159,055,768 worldwide.[18] The movie was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Sandra Bullock). However, over the years, the film has seen a more positive reception and has also acquired cult film status through numerous cable TV airings and solid home video sales.

Foreign releases[]

In some markets outside of the United States, all references to Taco Bell in Demolition Man were changed to Pizza Hut, and therefore, Pizza Hut is said to have won the Franchise Wars.

See also[]


  1. Wong, Stacy. "Irvine Cast as Futuristic L.A. : Movie: Action-thriller starring Wesley Snipes and Sylvester Stallone is being filmed in the city this week.", The Los Angeles Times, April 16, 1993. Retrieved on November 8, 2010. 
  2. Jack Black
  3. Rob Schneider
  4. http://tv.yahoo.com/lori-petty/contributor/31686/bio
  5. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named James
  6. "The Jean-Claude Van Damme/Steven Seagal Movie That Never Will Be...‘Demolition Man'", MTV, March 3, 2008. Retrieved on May 16, 2011. 
  7. Dickerson, Jeff (April 4, 2002). Black Delights in Demolition Man. The Michigan Daily. Archived from the original on December 24, 2007. Retrieved on September 19, 2010.
  8. How Many Ultralite Concept Vehicles Were There?. GM Heritage Center. Retrieved on January 8, 2012.
  9. Nemere István: A cenzúra a fejekben van (Hungarian). Origo. Retrieved on November 28, 2010.
  10. Round Two With Stallone: Rocky, Beverly Hills Cop, Rambo 4, Elvis, Poe, Horror, Incredibles 2 & Seashells.... Aintitcool.com (December 2, 2006). Retrieved on May 8, 2009.
  11. Turan, Kenneth. "Demolition Man: Another Killer Blond", Los Angeles Times, October 8, 1993. Retrieved on September 10, 2010. 
  12. Canby, Vincent. "Review/Film; Waking Up In a Future Of Muscles", The New York Times, October 8, 1993. Retrieved on September 10, 2010. 
  13. Schickel, Richard. "Futuristic Face-Off", Time Magazine, October 18, 1993. Retrieved on September 19, 2010. 
  14. Fox, David J.. "Weekend Box Office Stallone, Snipes: Action at Box Office", The Los Angeles Times, October 12, 1993. Retrieved on October 27, 2010. 
  15. Galbraith, Jane. "Hoping for a Box Office Blowout on 'Demolition Man'", The Los Angeles Times, October 12, 1993. Retrieved on November 8, 2010. 
  16. Fox, David J.. "Weekend Box Office : 'Demolition Man' Fends Off 'Hillbillies'", The Los Angeles Times, October 19, 1993. Retrieved on December 30, 2010. 
  17. Horn, John. "DEMOLITION MAN' EXPLODES INTO CHARTS AT NO. 1", Chicago Tribune, October 15, 1993. Retrieved on September 19, 2010. 
  18. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named thenumbers

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