Illustrations By Penelope Gazin
Among all the shitty themed family restaurant chains on this doomed rock, Planet Hollywood is undoubtedly the saddest, as is the story of its demise. At its apex, it was a place where patrons the world over could survey the USA from within the nation’s hemorrhaging, cancerous innards. A basilica where diners could eat fried food among America’s most prized national treasures—replicas of props from stories that are made up in Los Angeles and then projected onto a screen. It was perhaps the epitome of misguided globalization.
That, however, was 1991. Since then, this celestial satellite of Tinseltown has all but imploded. While not yet defunct, all signs point that the end is nigh. In hindsight, it seems that the Why, How, When, and Where were all equally avoidable and interesting. So, in hopes that the troubled executives and board members of Planet Hollywood will pay us a handsome consultation fee if they survive, we have put together a brief list of some of their most boneheaded moves and what we think they should’ve done differently.
An American empire is born: The first Planet Hollywood opens in New York City in October. Founded by Robert Earl, former president and CEO of Hard Rock Cafe, and Keith Barish, the executive producer behind blockbusters like The Fugitive, 9½ Weeks, Big Trouble in Little China, and The Running Man, the pair use their connections in the entertainment industry to convince the seemingly infallible quadrumvirate of Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Demi Moore to sign on as backers.
What SHOULD have happened: Instead of launching a new chain, Earl could have invested his money more wisely by incorporating Hollywood memorabilia into Hard Rock. Any leftover cash should’ve been invested in a new line of milkshakes and cream sodas curated by Sammy Hagar and spiked with liqueur and glitter.
Adults and kids alike are in love with Planet Hollywood’s lip-smacking combo of movie-memorabilia decor and funky, obscenely American dishes like Cap’n Crunch-breaded chicken.
What SHOULD have happened: In 1994, OJ Simpson lost his mind and (our lawyer says we have to say “most likely,” but come on now) killed two white people in a ritzy suburb of California. Did the knowledge of OJ’s obvious ties to HOLLYWOOD churn the stomachs of patrons, signaling the beginning of the end for the chain? Could the Juice have somehow prevented this travesty by NOT killing white people and instead chowed down on a delicious Planet Hollywood BBQ pizza, washing it down with a Terminator™ vodka drink? Probably.
Planet Hollywood goes public in April. Share prices reach an all-time high on its first trading day: $32. This results in a valuation of $3.4 billion on paper, but it’s all downhill from here.
What SHOULD have happened: On learning the news that they were now billionaires on paper, the owners of Planet Hollywood should NOT have gone out and blown most of their money on anal beads and ethnic prostitutes (allegedly, according to a line cook who was fired six hours into his opening-day shift for smoking crack mixed with Cap’n Crunch-coated chicken in the bathroom).
Planet Hollywood partners with AMC Theatres to develop Planet Movies, a chain of memorabilia-filled cineplexes. No one gives a shit.
What SHOULD have happened: The rich people behind this venture should have realized that people are so poor they can barely afford to watch movies on their home planet, so how in the hell are they supposed to be able to afford catching a flick across the galaxy. It’s like, duh, motherfuckers.
Cool Planet, Planet Hollywood’s attempt to leave its mark on the ice-cream industry (WHY???), is unleashed on the public. Business is so bad that the offshoot is scrapped later that year. That same year, Planet Hollywood takes another misstep by partnering with Marvel and Universal Studios to form the restaurant Marvel Mania. Due to a combination of oversaturation, dumb ideas, and confusing brand expansion, Planet Hollywood is forced to quickly close the nerdiest eatery that ever existed.
What SHOULD have happened: Going bigger than big and extremely literal by partnering with Dippin’ Dots to conceive the Cool Planet—a massive, geographically accurate globe of weird dry-frozen ice-cream beads that can only be entered via tube slide and exited by eating a door through it.
In August, terrorists bomb the Planet Hollywood in Cape Town, South Africa. One woman is killed, almost 30 are injured, and witnesses recall bloody limbs scattered across the floor. An anonymous representative from Muslims Against Global Oppression claims that the organization is responsible for the attack, saying it was in retaliation for US aggression against suspected terrorists in Sudan and Afghanistan. An official statement released by the group later denies this claim. To this day no one knows who hated 5,000-calorie entrees enough to declare jihad against Planet Hollywood.
What SHOULD have happened: Maybe not opening a Planet Hollywood in Africa?
Stocks plummet to less than $1 and Planet Hollywood goes bankrupt… for the first time.
What SHOULD have happened: Refer to advice dispensed in our 1991 entry.
Schwarzenegger severs his financial ties to the business. Apparently, the company was not as successful as he had hoped, offering one more distraction from his well-respected movie career.
What SHOULD have happened: Schwarzenegger should have shattered the glass display containing his Terminator costume, slipped it on, decapitated his Planet Hollywood partners with his bare hands, and smoked a cigar while juggling their heads in front of the remaining staff.
After restructuring, Planet Hollywood files for bankruptcy a second time in October, citing the worldwide decrease in tourism after 9/11 as the main reason.
What SHOULD have happened: The restaurant should’ve jumped ahead of the curve, realizing the potential success of 9/11 movies by introducing the World Trade Center Double-Decker Superterroristic Expialadocious 767 Burger with Al-Qaeda Wingzinger Sauce.
Principal and founding father Robert Earl decides to—despite losing more than $1 billion so far from Planet Hollywood troubles (which he for some reason terms “wobblies”)—open Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
What SHOULD have happened: Actually, they did everything right here. Planet Hollywood should close all other locations and concentrate on digging yet another festering wound into Sin City—a place where people pay lots of money to hurt themselves.
Continuing its misadventures in Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood partners with Westgate Resorts on the PH Towers: a 52-story luxury condominium megacomplex on the Strip advertised as “the largest single vacation ownership building ever built in the world.” It was rebranded in November 2011, and is now known as Elara, a Hilton Grand Vacations hotel.
What SHOULD have happened: The rooms of PH Towers should have been decorated with interactive Hollywood memorabilia. The tagline could’ve gone something like: “Wanna put on the robe and gloves from Rocky and fuck your fat wife? Time to suit up, champ.”
In February, Tampa, Florida’s own Bay News 13 reports on the chain restaurant’s “new twist” on one of its “most sinful selections”: lasagna you can eat with your hands! Planet Hollywood chef Andy Bell eloquently noted the rarity of the dish, saying, “You won’t see this anywhere else, I don’t think.” We hope not, cockhead.
Due to abject failures like handheld lasagna, nearly 100 locations have closed worldwide; 15 remain open in scattered cities across the world, only four of which are in the US. It’s not all bad news, however. According to Planet Hollywood’s official website, they just opened a new restaurant in Kuwait and are planning to launch in India sometime soon!
What SHOULD have happened: The capital used for these ventures would’ve been better spent on bringing Schwarzenegger and Moore back into the fold as sex workers who are included in the $1 million Total Recall Wife-Swap Do-Some-Whip-Its Presidential Suite Package.