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And Now, For Some Familiar Products


You won't see any Hondas and Acuras in "Demolition Man." The cars of the future are all made by General Motors. In fact, in one scene from the film, Sylvester Stallone drives a cherry-red 1970 Oldsmobile 442 out of an underground freight elevator, crashing through the floor into a sparkling GM dealership in 2032.

GM's heavy presence in the film offers a classic example of how action films, renowned for their global reach, can serve as valuable promotional vehicles for consumer products. For General Motors, trying to rebound from sluggish sales and management upheaval, it's a dramatic way to remind moviegoers, however subliminally, that GM might still make the cars of the future.

Last year, the Vista Group, a company that specializes in product exposure management, set up a meeting between its client, General Motors, and producer Joel Silver and "Demolition Man" co-producer Jacqueline George. GM's research and development wing recently has built about 50 prototypes, known as concept cars, which can be seen at car shows around the world.

After assessing how they would be portrayed in the film, GM gave the filmmakers an UltraLite to use--and provided them with a top designer who helped them build a fleet of 10 streamlined replicas, which are used (and in many instances, demolished) during the course of the film.

"What really stimulated General Motors' interest was the vision the film presented, that GM would still be an entity 40 years into the future," explained Vista Group president Eric Dahlquist. "Anything that presented a picture of future survivability was very attractive."

If "Demolition Man" is a hit, millions of people around the globe will see the glamorous vision of GM cars racing at top speeds, some with Stallone riding inside.

Moviegoers will also see Stallone eating at Taco Bell, which is portrayed in several comic scenes as the future's only surviving restaurant chain. Thanks to a tie-in with Taco Bell that kicks in shortly before the film's October release, fast-food consumers can purchase the same Cryo Cups Stallone drinks from in the film.

The producers also have licensing agreements and promotional tie-ins with Target stores, Mattel games, DC Comics and Applause books. In fact, not long after shooting began, Warner Films' consumer products department organized a licensing day, where corporate representatives visited the set, toured a stage full of props and even saw some early footage from the film.

The producers also struck a deal with Virgin Games, who will release a high-tech "Demolition Man" video game this fall, in conjunction with the movie's release. In an era where video game sales have surpassed box-office revenues, the producers are acutely aware of the promotional value of a video game tie-in. They made sure that both Stallone and Wesley Snipes agreed to each devote a full day to "acting" out original scenes for use in the video game.

"We allotted them everything--our actors, wardrobe, props, you name it," says Jacqueline George. "To us, it's an incredibly valuable piece of advertising. A video game is a great fit for us, because the kids playing these games are the same kids going to see action films."

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