Still not sure what to watch this weekend? How about an old school classic such as RoboCop?
The film about a human police officer turned cyborg law enforcer is without doubt one of the greatest action films of the ’80s and as previously noted on It’s A Stampede!, RoboCop is currently available to stream on Netflix! Hurrah!
But before you dive back into RoboCop why not bone up on some interesting facts all about the movie. In total, I’m presenting 30 facts all designed to offer a greater insight into the adventures of Officer Alex Murphy.*
Here’s everything you could ever need to know about RoboCop!
RoboCop: The facts
1) RoboCop was produced by Orion Pictures – the American motion picture production company behind such ‘80s classics as Caddyshack (1980), First Blood (1982), The Terminator (1984) and Platoon (1986), as well as more recent cult films such as The Belko Experiment (2017).
2) The film was written by Edward Neumeier & Michael Miner and was directed by Dutch director, Paul Verhoeven. Verhoeven’s portfolio includes the likes of Total Recall (1990), Basic Instinct (1992), Starship Troopers (1997) and… er… Showgirls (1995).
3) RoboCop was initially given a budget of $10 million, but by the time the production came to an end the film had cost $13 million to make.
4) Peter Weller played the role of lead character, Officer Alex Murphy/RoboCop. The actor reprised the role for the movie’s first sequel, RoboCop 2 (1990), but did not return for the third movie, RoboCop 3 (1993) or any of the TV spin-offs.
5) Peter Weller’s chin was one of the deciding factors in his RoboCop casting. Commenting about finding the correct actor in the book RoboCop: The Definitive History, director Paul Verhoeven said: “The most important thing for us was a good chin. For most of the movie you were only going to see his chin. Peter Weller was a good actor with a good chin.”
6) Arnold Schwarzenegger was briefly considered for the role of RoboCop. Discussing casting in the book, RoboCop: The Definitive History by Calum Waddell, director Paul Verhoeven, said: “For a very short time we considered Arnold Schwarzenegger. His big film at the time, The Terminator, had come out from Orion so it seemed natural to them that he should be considered for RoboCop as well. That was all down to Orion and not me. But, yes, I did take that on board and looked at him for the role. However, the costume would have to be very bulky to support Arnold, so it was never offered to him, he was only spoken about.”
7) Arnie wasn’t the only actor considered for the role of RoboCop. “Several people were considered, including Chuck Norris,” said Michael Miner, co-writer of RoboCop (RoboCop: The Definitive History).
8) The character, Officer Alex Murphy is introduced three minutes into the movie. He is officially pronounced dead 23 minutes later, thus beginning the process of turning him into a man-machine.
9) Peter Weller hired a mime to help him perfect the movements of RoboCop. He also remained in character throughout the shoot.
10) RoboCop took inspiration from Judge Dredd comics and from the work of comic book writer, Frank Miller. Miller would later write the story and co-write the screenplay for RoboCop 2 (1990).
11) Nancy Allen, the actress who played Officer Lewis, a mainstay of three RoboCop movies, was a last minute addition to the cast. Actress Stephanie Zimbalist was originally cast in the role, but due to filming commitments on TV show, Remington Steel, Zimbalist was forced to pull out of the role two weeks before principal photography could get underway. Luckily, Allen had already read the role so she took on the part.
12) Nancy Allen loved the script for RoboCop but was not quite convinced about the movie’s title, fearing it could be an indication of a poor finished product. Speaking in the book, RoboCop: The Definitive Guide, Allen said: “I saw the title and thought, ‘Oh God, they need to change the name of this – I bet it’s going to be awful’.”
13) At the time of release, celebrated movie critic, Roger Ebert praised the performances of both Weller and Allen. He said: “Considering that he spends much of the movie hidden behind one kind of makeup device or another, Weller does an impressive job of creating sympathy for his character. He is more ‘human’ indeed, when he is a robocop than earlier in the movie, when he’s an ordinary human being. His plight is appealing, and Nancy Allen is effective as the determined partner who wants to find out what really happened to him.”
14) RoboCop’s android adversary, ED-209 (Enforcement Droid series 209) was designed by Craig Hayes and voiced by Jon Davison. The pacification droid is introduced within the first ten minutes of the film, but malfunctions two minutes later.
15) The faint humming noise that ED-209 makes to signal he is operational was added as both a time & cost cutting exercise. The hum would indicate to the audience that ED-209 was still active in the scene, but animators would not need to move him.
16) American actor, Kurtwood Smith played the role of gang leader, Clarence Boddicker. Smith has an extensive CV which includes appearances in The A-Team, The X-Files, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Agent Carter, amongst others. To many, Smith is perhaps best known for the role of Red Forman in US comedy series, That ‘70s Show.
17) RoboCop was filmed on location in Dallas, Texas, with additional scenes shot in Pittsburgh.
18) Rob Bottin was responsible for creating the design of RoboCop’s suit. Bottin was a former apprentice of effects wizard, Rick Baker and had previously worked on Star Wars (1977) and The Thing (1981).
19) The movie’s iconic ‘media breaks’ – which were used to add an extra level of satire to the movie – were shot towards the end of the production and were included in the film to help lighten the mood.
20) Officer Murphy’s catchphrase, “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me”, is said twice throughout the movie. Once by Alex Murphy and once by RoboCop.
21) The catchphrase, “I’d buy that for a dollar” – used during the film’s media breaks – is said five times.
22) RoboCop is programmed with three prime directives: #1 Serve the public trust; #2 Protect the innocent; #3 Uphold the law. A fourth, hidden prime directive is programmed into RoboCop’s system. The fourth prime directive stops RoboCop from hurting any senior officer of OCP – the company that owns RoboCop.
23) As the film’s musical score had not been completed by the time the marketing process began on RoboCop, the film’s original trailer featured music taken from The Terminator.
24) The music for RoboCop – including RoboCop’s theme – was written by Basil Poledouris. Before his death in 2006, Poledouris had written the music for numerous movies, including Conan the Barbarian (1982), Free Willy (1993) and RoboCop 3 (1993).
25) Released in July 1987, RoboCop took $53.4 million at the US box office – more than four times the movie’s budget.
26) The original theatrical release of RoboCop included a few cuts to reduce the amount of violence depicted in the movie. When the movie was subsequently released on LaserDisc, DVD and Blu-Ray, the cut sequences were restored.
27) In 1988, RoboCop was nominated for three awards at the 60th Academy Awards. The film won one award: The Special Achievement Award (Sound Effects Editing).
28) Upon its release, RoboCop was both a commercial and critical success, kick-starting a series of Robocop spin-offs which included two movie sequels, two animated shows, a live-action TV series, four TV movies and various computer games, comics and toys. In 2014, the RoboCop franchise was rebooted in order to introduce the character to a new audience.
29) In 2007, Entertainment Weekly named RoboCop the 14th Greatest Action Movie of All Time.
30) In 2011, a Kickstarter campaign was set up to construct and erect a life-size bronze statue of RoboCop in the US city of Detroit. The statute took seven years to build, finally reaching completion in May 2018.
*A version of this post first appeared on the Honcho-SFX blog.