Demolition Man (film)

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Demolition Man
Demolition man.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Marco Brambilla
Produced by Joel Silver[1]
Michael Levy
Howard Kazanjian
Screenplay by Daniel Waters
Robert Reneau
Peter M. Lenkov
Story by Peter M. Lenkov
Robert Reneau
Starring Sylvester Stallone
Wesley Snipes
Music by Elliot Goldenthal
Cinematography Alex Thomson
Editing by Stuart Baird
Studio Silver Pictures
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • October 8, 1993 (1993-10-08)
Running time 115 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $57 million
Box office $159,055,768[2]

Demolition Man is a 1993 American science fiction action film directed by Marco Brambilla in his directorial debut. The film stars Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes. The film was released in the United States on October 8, 1993.[3]

The film tells the story of two men—one, an evil crime lord; the other, a risk-taking police officer—who are cryogenically frozen in the year 1996 and reawakened in 2032. Following a massive earthquake in 2010 that destroyed much of Los Angeles, it merged with San Diego to form a planned city called San Angeles in which all crime has seemingly been eliminated from mainstream society.

Some aspects of the film allude to Aldous Huxley's dystopian novel, Brave New World.[4]


In 1996, LAPD Sgt. John Spartan leads a Special Operations unit on an unauthorized mission to rescue hostages taken by the psychopathic career criminal Simon Phoenix and his henchmen. After a thermal scan reveals no sign of the hostages, Spartan enters Phoenix's stronghold, engages Phoenix's men and captures him. Before he is arrested, Phoenix detonates several barrels of C4, destroying the building. The hostages' bodies are found in the rubble, Phoenix pleads his regard and Spartan is charged with their deaths. Both men are sentenced to a "CryoPrison", where they are cryogenically frozen and exposed to subconscious rehabilitation techniques.

In 2032, Phoenix escapes the prison during a parole hearing. Easily killing the warden, armed guards and several peace officers he encounters, Phoenix demonstrates superior speed, strength, agility and martial arts skills. He is also multi-lingual, proficient with future technology and has acute sensory skills. After a great earthquake 22 years prior, the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Barbara have merged into the utopian San Angeles, under the pacifist guidance of Dr. Raymond Cocteau. Weapons and vices have been outlawed, choice desires (sex, children, etc.) have been regulated and the San Angeles Police (SAPD) are incapable of dealing with criminals like Phoenix. Veteran officer Zachary Lamb suggests that Spartan be revived and reinstated to the force to help them capture Phoenix. Lieutenant Lenina Huxley is assigned to assist Spartan in his transition.

The revived Spartan has trouble adapting to life in the future. Most of Huxley's fellow officers find him thuggish and uncivilized. Spartan tells them Phoenix will try to acquire a gun. After Phoenix breaks into a museum's weapon exhibition to arm himself, he evades Spartan before running into Cocteau and tries shooting him, but is unable. Cocteau reminds him of why he was revived: to kill Edgar Friendly, the ragtag leader of the "Scraps" - resistance fighters living in the ruins beneath San Angeles. After seeing their exchange on security cameras, Spartan and Huxley determine that Cocteau programmed Phoenix to make him a more capable, dangerous maniac, using him as an assassin to eliminate Friendly. While Spartan, Huxley and young officer Alfredo Garcia enter the underground city to warn Friendly, Phoenix confronts Cocteau and demands that he release a list of other prisoners to assist him.

At Friendly's base, Phoenix and his gang attempt to kill both Spartan and Friendly, but Huxley and Garcia repel the attack. During a subsequent car chase, Phoenix brags to Spartan that the hostages he tried saving in 1996 were dead before the building exploded. Though Phoenix escapes, Friendly, recruiting Garcia, leads the Scraps from the underground to join the police against Phoenix and his gang.

Phoenix orders the gang to kill Cocteau, as his programming prevents him from harming Cocteau directly. Spartan and Huxley arrive at Cocteau's headquarters to capture Phoenix and his accomplices, but Phoenix escapes to the prison to revive even more dangerous convicts. After knocking out Huxley to protect her, Spartan enters the prison to confront Phoenix. Spartan uses a cryo-tube to freeze Phoenix solid, then beheads Phoenix and escapes just before the cryo-machinery overloads, destroying the prison. With Cocteau dead and the prison destroyed, the police and Scraps find themselves at odds over how to begin the framework for their new society. Spartan suggests that they find a way to compromise between order and personal freedom, then kisses Huxley and departs with her.


Jack Black played one of the "Wasteland Scraps" in the underground scene, who flinches when Spartan shoves the gun out of his face and says "And Cocteau's an asshole!"[5] Rob Schneider played Erwin, one of the operators in the San Angeles Police control room; he would also play opposite Stallone in the 1995 movie Judge Dredd.[6]

Sandra Bullock replaced original actress Lori Petty in the role of Lenina Huxley after a few days filming.[7] 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.[4]

Originally Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal were offered lead roles in the movie.[8] The role of Simon Phoenix was also offered to Jackie Chan.[9]


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.[10] 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. There is also a red Chevrolet Camaro fitted with a body kit driving around in most scenes around the city, and parked in others.

For some non-American releases, references to Taco Bell were changed to Pizza Hut because the latter had a much larger share of foreign fast food markets in the early 1990s. 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 window 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.

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. 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.[11]


The theme song to the film, "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 frontman for The Police. The song was first released in March 1981, as an advance single from Jones's fifth 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.


Critical reaction[edit]

The film received mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 64% rating on based on 36 reviews.[12] The film scored a 34/100 on Metacritic, based on 9 reviews.[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: "Unlike so many other movies of its genre, it really does have a satiric angle to it."[17]

Box office[edit]

The film debuted at No. 1 at the box office.[18][19][20][21] Demolition Man grossed $58,055,768 by the end of its box office run in North America and $159,055,768 worldwide.[2]

Home media[edit]

The film was first released on VHS in the spring of 1994. Three years later in 1997, the film was first released on DVD, and was reissued once more in 2010. A year later in 2011, the film was released on Blu-ray.



A four-part limited-series comic adaptation was published by DC Comics starting in November, 1993. A novelization, written by Robert Tine, was also published in October, 1993.


Acclaim Entertainment and Virgin Interactive released Demolition Man on various home video game systems. The 16-bit versions were shooting games distributed by Acclaim. The 3DO version is a multi-genre game that incorporates Full Motion Video scenes, with both Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes reprising their roles as their characters in scenes that were filmed exclusively for the game.

In April 1994, Williams released a widebody pinball machine, Demolition Man based on the movie. It is designed by Dennis Nordman. The game features sound clips from the movie, as well as original speech by Stallone and Snipes. This game was part of WMS' SuperPin series (Twilight Zone, Indiana Jones, etc.).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (August 1, 1993). "Hollywood's Big-Bang Theorist". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 19, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Demolition Man – Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved June 1, 2010. 
  3. ^ Wong, Stacy (April 16, 1993). "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. Retrieved November 8, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b James, Caryn (October 24, 1993). "FILM VIEW; 'Demolition Man' Makes Recycling an Art — The". New York Times. Retrieved March 9, 2009. 
  5. ^ Jack Black at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ Rob Schneider at the Internet Movie Database
  7. ^
  8. ^ "The Jean-Claude Van Damme/Steven Seagal Movie That Never Will Be...‘Demolition Man'". MTV. March 3, 2008. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  9. ^ Dickerson, Jeff (April 4, 2002). "Black Delights in Demolition Man". The Michigan Daily. Archived from the original on December 24, 2007. Retrieved September 19, 2010. 
  10. ^ "How Many Ultralite Concept Vehicles Were There?". GM Heritage Center. Retrieved January 8, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Nemere István: A cenzúra a fejekben van". Origo (in Hungarian). Retrieved November 28, 2010. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Turan, Kenneth (October 8, 1993). "Demolition Man: Another Killer Blond". Los Angeles TImes. Retrieved September 10, 2010. 
  15. ^ Canby, Vincent (October 8, 1993). "Review/Film; Waking Up In a Future Of Muscles". The New York Times. Retrieved September 10, 2010. 
  16. ^ Schickel, Richard (October 18, 1993). "Futuristic Face-Off". Time Magazine. Retrieved September 19, 2010. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ Fox, David J. (October 12, 1993). "Weekend Box Office Stallone, Snipes: Action at Box Office". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 27, 2010. 
  19. ^ Galbraith, Jane (October 12, 1993). "Hoping for a Box Office Blowout on 'Demolition Man'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 8, 2010. 
  20. ^ Fox, David J. (October 19, 1993). "Weekend Box Office : 'Demolition Man' Fends Off 'Hillbillies'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 30, 2010. 
  21. ^ Horn, John (October 15, 1993). "DEMOLITION MAN' EXPLODES INTO CHARTS AT NO. 1". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 19, 2010. 

External links[edit]