Demolition Man: 23 Easter Eggs, References, And Fun Facts You Didn't Know
It's been 27 years since we first got a look at the future of San Angeles in the 1993 movie Demolition Man. The iconic action film sees a cop (Sylvester Stallone) and a terrorist (Wesley Snipes) being sent to a cryogenic prison in 1996, only to be thawed out over three decades later to continue their war with each other in the year 2032.
If you've somehow never seen Demolition Man, you've made quite a massive mistake at some point in your life. That means you don't know about how Taco Bell is the only surviving restaurant, why San Diego and Los Angeles formed a supercity, or what the three seashells are for. Demolition Man paints a picture of a sanitized and boring future that ignores its disenfranchised, driving them underground. That is until a couple of relics from the 1990s let loose.
Given that it's never a bad time to reminisce about this excellent action film, we've revisited Demolition Man--and its audio commentary featuring producer Joel Silver and director Marco Brambilla--to pick out 24 Easter eggs, references, and fun facts that you likely didn't know. Take a look at everything we learned below, then check out our other movie deep dives like Kill Bill, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and The Dark Knight.
1. The opening of the film was originally very different
In the initial draft of the film, Demolition Man begins in the future, with John Spartan being taken out of cryogenic freeze. When Fred Dekker did a rewrite of the movie, he added the prologue set in 1996. Appearing at the Monster Mania convention in 2009, he explained it was done to make viewers appreciate the movie's future more. "If you don't show Kansas, Oz isn't all that special," he said.
2. The real Los Angeles
The opening of the film, showing Los Angeles in turmoil, was actually filmed six months after the LA Riots in 1992. No, the Hollywood sign was never set on fire during the riots.
3. Modern-day LA almost looked very different
When John Spartan goes in to capture Simon Phoenix, he's brought to the scene by helicopter. Originally, director Marco Brambilla and his team planned to use a blimp in the scene. However, due to the fire effects used in the scene and the presence of heavy winds, it was decided that would be too dangerous.
4. Wesley Snipes didn't want to do the movie at first
In a commentary track for the movie, Brambilla and producer Joel Silver claim Westley Snipes actually turned down the movie when he was approached about it. To get him to agree, they went to the set of another of his movies, Rising Sun, to convince him.
5. Another Simon Phoenix
According to many sources, including AMC, Snipes was not the first choice to play the villainous Simon Phoenix. Stallone actually wanted Jackie Chan in the role. However, Chan reportedly turned it down because he didn't believe his fans wanted to see him play a bad guy.
6. Demolition Man's cryogenic technology has an interesting inspiration
The canister used to cryogenically freeze criminals is inspired by Ice-nine, a substance introduced in the Kurt Vonnegut novel Cat's Cradle. Ice-nine was restructured water that was solid at room temperature and would crystallize any water it touched.
7. Let's talk about naked John Spartan
The nude John Spartan is actually a lifelike mold of Stallone created by the effects house that later created the animatronics in Jumanji. According to Silver, Stallone had some say in its creation. "Sly wanted to make sure the genital area was very large and appeared to have a strong masculine side of him there," he revealed.
8. Several of those were made
Silver also recalled that Stallone had extra molds made that were then displayed at Planet Hollywood restaurants.
9. Cars of the future
Something that helped the budget of the movie was having the futuristic cars loaned to the production by General Motors. One of them was a concept car called the Ultralite. At the time, GM only had one model. However, the production had several more built.
10. Sandra Bullock wasn't the first choice for Huxley
Originally, Lori Petty (Tank Girl, Point Break, A League of Their Own) was cast in the role and even shot a scene. "It just wasn't working," the director said.
11. San Angeles is actually Orange County, California
Exterior shots in San Angeles were filmed in Orange County, Ca. Originally, the producers wanted to film in San Diego and San Francisco but didn't have the budget for it--though there is a quick shot of the San Diego Convention Center while Spartan and Huxley drive to Taco Bell. However, several locations were found in Irvine, Ca. that were built in the '70s and '80s. The aesthetic of the buildings meshed well with the idea that a massive earthquake had flattened the city, necessitating it be built from scratch. That's why you don't see any historic buildings in the film.
12. A quick fight scene
The notable fight scene between Phoenix and a group of cops was shot in a single afternoon. That had to be done because the scene happened outdoors and the budget wouldn't allow for stopping traffic long-term.
13. Thawing out
According to Brambilla, Stallone was "very comfortable" with the scene in which he thaws out nude. "He'd done all his push-ups and pumps ups," the director said of his star's preparation for appearing naked on-screen.
14. Who came up with the three seashells?
Daniel Waters, who also wrote Heathers and Batman Returns, was responsible for the first draft of the Demolition Man script. That was when the three seashells concept was introduced.
15. The Hall of Violence
According to Brambilla, the photos on the walls of the Hall of Violence museum exhibit are actual images of the 1992 LA riots. And in case you didn't notice it, the name "Hall of Violence" is printed in the same font used in the game Diablo.
16. How did Taco Bell survive the franchise wars?
When the film was being developed, the director and producers were looking for a chain restaurant that wouldn't be opposed to being involved in an R-rated movie. "Taco Bell, they weren't afraid of the rating. They thought maybe it'd be a good idea to do the tie-in." They even shot commercials for the future Taco Bell.
Years later, the Demolition Man Taco Bell was resurrected for a San Diego Comic-Con experience. GameSpot actually had a meal there, so enjoy our look back at the perfect evening.
17. Hey look, it's MTV's Dan Cortese
Inside Taco Bell, playing piano, is none other than MTV Sports host Dan Cortese. He also was the official spokesperson for Burger King at one point and--surprisingly--appears as two different characters in Demolition Man. He's not only the pianist at Taco Bell, but also a cryo prison guard.
18. What about Pizza Hut, though?
While Americans remember Taco Bell as the surviving restaurant in Demolition Man, those outside of the United States saw a different version of the movie. In international versions of the film, it's actually Pizza Hut that's featured in the film. Taco Bell isn't widely known overseas. Yum! Brands owns both chains, as well as KFC, The Habit Hamburger Grill, and WingStreet.
19. Wesley Snipes wouldn't sit still
You'll notice there aren't many scenes of Simon Phoenix where he isn't moving around. That was due to Snipes, who wouldn't sit still. Instead, the director would block the scene around his movements.
20. A tale of two Huxleys
The scene where Huxley brings Spartan home is the only one that was filmed twice. The first time was with Lori Petty, before she was replaced with Sandra Bullock. The second time they shot it, the director crammed even more pop culture memorabilia into the set.
21. Breaking in the LA Convention Center
When the LA Convention Center was rebuilt in the '90s, Demolition Man was the first production to film there, using it as the Cocteau Center. Other notable movies to shoot scenes at the LA Convention Center are Rush Hour, Super Troopers, The Dark Knight, and Face/Off.
22. Let's talk about Spartan's daughter
The director confirmed that there was a subplot in the film about Spartan reuniting with his long-lost daughter, who was going to be a member of Edgar Friendly's resistance. At this point in time, she would have technically been older than her dad. Eventually, though, that entire subplot was eliminated entirely. That means the mystery about Spartan's daughter lives on.
23. Another familiar face underground
While Spartan's supposed daughter didn't make the final cut, a then-unknown Jack Black did. He appeared as one of Edgar Friendly's followers.