In the prophecy foretold by science fiction movie Demolition Man, Taco Bell will win the fast food wars. What did this great conflict look like? Did it involve condiments, or more insidious subterfuge? Actually, it was something much simpler: opponents turning the action movie down.
As writer Daniel Waters recalls, it was a matter of who approved the product placement first, and some bigger companies weren’t keen. “To be quite honest, my original draft was Burger King, and then Burger King scoffed and McDonald’s scoffed,” he told Vulture. “When Taco Bell came around, it was like, ‘Of course! Taco Bell! The greatest thing that’s ever happened to this movie’.”
Waters was very happy about the arrangement, because he’s a “Taco Bell person”, so much so he contends the fast food chain and Demolition Man were kindred spirits. “We have great Mexican food out here in LA,” he says. “People are like, ‘Oh, Taco Bell is not real Mexican food’. I’m going, ‘Yes, we know. Much like Demolition Man, it’s its own genre’.”
Starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes, many parts of Demolition Man has been heavily memed over the years. Taco Bell, obviously, since fast food has only gotten faster, but then there are the video screens looking a bit like Zoom calls, Snipes’s over-the-top performance, and the three shells.
Marco Brambilla directed the thriller movie, about vigilante criminal Simon Phoenix (Snipes) getting cryogenically frozen for his crimes in 1996. The cop who takes him in, John Spartan (Stallone), gets the same for reckless endangerment. In 2032, Simon is freed and goes on a rampage, and John is released to catch him. Sandra Bullock co-stars is a very, very ’90s movie.
Demolition Man is full of character, and Taco Bell is a part of that. Somehow, we don’t think Burger King would’ve had the same impact.