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Demolition Man (film)

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For other uses, see Demolition Man (disambiguation).
Demolition Man
Demolition man.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Marco Brambilla
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Peter M. Lenkov
  • Robert Reneau
Music by Elliot Goldenthal
Cinematography Alex Thomson
Edited by Stuart Baird
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • October 8, 1993 (1993-10-08)
Running time
115 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $159.1 million[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: an evil crime lord and a risk-taking police officer. Cryogenically frozen in 1996, they are restored to life in the year 2032 to find mainstream society changed and all crime seemingly eliminated.

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, and engages Phoenix's men and captures Phoenix himself, who before his arrest has detonated 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 frozen in the "California Cryo-Penitentiary" (Spartan for 70 years, with parole eligibility in 50) and exposed to subconscious rehabilitation techniques.

In 2032, 22 years after a "Great Earthquake" destroyed the city, the former cities of Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Barbara have merged into the pseudo-utopian San Angeles, under the pseudo-pacifist guidance and control of an envangelistic Dr. Raymond Cocteau. Weapons and vices are outlawed, human behavior is regulated, citizens carry implanted transceivers, and in the resulting absence of any violent crime, the San Angeles Police (SAPD) has lost any ability to handle violent behavior of any kind.

Phoenix is awakened for a parole hearing, kills the warden, armed guards, and several peace officers, demonstrating superhuman abilities and martial arts skills. 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, despite the reluctance of Chief George Earle, who takes an immediate dislike to him.

The revived Spartan has trouble adapting to life in the future. Most of Huxley's fellow officers perceive Spartan as thuggish and uncivilized. He finds the culture, the bans and the peaceful society repulsing (constantly getting fines over excessive swearing), and is at odds with Earle, who finds him to be a barbaric, heretic "caveman". In the meantime, the white-robed Dr. Cocteau has recruited Phoenix to kill Edgar Friendly, the ragtag leader of the "Scraps"—resistance fighters living in the ruins beneath San Angeles, whom Cocteau sees as the threat to the narcotized society he has created.

The first Spartan-Phoenix confrontation is at the "Museum of Antiquities" weapon exhibit, where Phoenix goes to arm himself, encountering Spartan, who had deduced this strategy. Phoenix evades Spartan and encounters Dr. Cocteau, whom he tries to shoot, but he is programmed against that ability. Cocteau reminds him of why he was revived: to kill Edgar Friendly. In a subsequent encounter, Dr. Cocteau adds Spartan to his hit list for Phoenix, and agrees to give him the territory of Santa Monica upon completion. Spartan and Huxley learn of this and that Dr. Cocteau is "an evil Mr. Rogers" rather than San Angeles's saintly god-king. He had programmed Phoenix to make him a more capable, dangerous maniac, and to use 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 (6) to assist him.

At Friendly's base, Phoenix and an irredeemable supplement of recruits attempt to kill both Spartan and Friendly, whom Spartan and Huxley have joined underground. They escape in a vintage Oldsmobile 4-4-2, and pursue Phoenix, who stole a police car. In communication during the car chase, Phoenix reveals that the hostages Spartan tried to rescue in their 1990s encounter were dead before the building exploded: Spartan was innocent of any crime and was terminated (frozen) for nothing. 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, which his programming prevents him from doing directly. Spartan and Huxley arrive at Cocteau's headquarters to capture Phoenix and his accomplices. Phoenix escapes to the prison to revive (defrost) and recruit even more dangerous convicts. After knocking out Huxley to protect her, Spartan enters the prison to confront Phoenix. Spartan uses a cryotube to freeze Phoenix solid, destroys Phoenix by knocking his head off, and escapes as the cryomachinery overloads, destroying the prison and clearly assumed that a couple of Simon Phoenix's gang members no longer seen eliminated by the cryo-prison blown up. With Cocteau dead and the prison destroyed, the police and the 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.


Bullock replaced original actress Lori Petty in the role of Lenina Huxley after a few days filming.[6] 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 film.[7] The role of Simon Phoenix was also offered to Jackie Chan.[8]


Regional differences

One of the film's focal points is Taco Bell being the sole surviving restaurant chain in the world. Because Taco Bell is not widely available outside the U.S., the European version substitutes it with Pizza Hut, with lines re-dubbed and logos changed during post-production.[9]

Plagiarism controversy

Hungarian science fiction writer István Nemere says 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 to find violence has been purged from society. Nemere claimed that a committee proved that 75% of the film is identical to the book. He 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. He also claimed that Hollywood has plagiarized 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.[10]


The title theme is a heavier remix 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.

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


The film debuted at No. 1 at the box office.[11][12][13][14] Demolition Man grossed $58,055,768 by the end of its box office run in North America and $159,055,768 worldwide.[2]

Warner Bros. released it on VHS in March 1994,[15] on DVD in October 1997,[16] and on Blu-ray in August 2011.[17]


The film received mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 64% rating on based on 36 reviews.[18] The film scored a 34/100 on Metacritic, based on 9 reviews.[19]




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


  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. ^ Marin, Rick (1993-11-21). "UP AND COMING: Rob Schneider; Call Him Busy. He's the Smarminator.". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  6. ^ "Lori Petty biography - Yahoo TV". Retrieved 2014-06-07. 
  7. ^ "The Jean-Claude Van Damme/Steven Seagal Movie That Never Will Be...‘Demolition Man'". MTV. March 3, 2008. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ "Demolition Man (Comparison: US Version - European Version)". Retrieved 2015-04-16. 
  10. ^ "Nemere István: A cenzúra a fejekben van". (in Hungarian). Retrieved November 28, 2010. 
  11. ^ Fox, David J. (October 12, 1993). "Weekend Box Office Stallone, Snipes: Action at Box Office". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 27, 2010. 
  12. ^ Galbraith, Jane (October 12, 1993). "Hoping for a Box Office Blowout on 'Demolition Man'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 8, 2010. 
  13. ^ Fox, David J. (October 19, 1993). "Weekend Box Office : 'Demolition Man' Fends Off 'Hillbillies'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 30, 2010. 
  14. ^ Horn, John (October 15, 1993). "Demolition man' explodes into charts at no. 1". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 19, 2010. 
  15. ^ Hunt, Dennis (March 4, 1994). "'Fugitive' Runs Home : Movies: Even though the hit film is back in theaters, Warners rushes its video release on the heels of Oscar nominations.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 23, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Action On DVD and Blu-ray 1997". MovieWeb. Retrieved November 23, 2014. 
  17. ^ Zupan, Michael (August 25, 2011). "Demolition Man (Blu-ray)". DVD Talk. Retrieved November 23, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Demolition Man". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-06-07. 
  19. ^ "Demolition Man Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-06-07. 
  20. ^ Turan, Kenneth (October 8, 1993). "Demolition Man: Another Killer Blond". Los Angeles TImes. Retrieved September 10, 2010. 
  21. ^ Canby, Vincent (October 8, 1993). "Review/Film; Waking Up In a Future Of Muscles". The New York Times. Retrieved September 10, 2010. 
  22. ^ Schickel, Richard (October 18, 1993). "Futuristic Face-Off". Time Magazine. Retrieved September 19, 2010. 

External links