I have worked with a number of 'characters' in my career... Spiderman, Darth Vader, The Chipmunks...even PacMan.
But putting together a national promotion for RoboCop was one of the more unique experiences in my life.
In the late 80's and early 90's professional wrestling had become dominant in sports entertainment. Working with Jan Keane and her team at Orion Pictures, we created the ultimate RoboCop tie-in promotion.
It was the perfect movie promotion. We wanted access to their vast cable audience, and they wanted a movie star who could get in the ring!
It took months of discussion, negotiations and meetings in Los Angeles and Atlanta. Turner owned World Championship Wrestling with huge wrestling stars like Nature Boy Rick Flair, Sting, Lex Luger, Sid Vicious and The Undertaker.
Finally we agreed on a venue and started to put the promotion together. It would be one of their biggest live and PPV (Pay Per View) events of 1990- Capitol Combat!
First, we needed to get the RoboCop costume and the stuntman willing to do the job, since we all knew that Peter Weller was never going to do this. So we hired one of the stuntmen from the film and got one of the actual 'costumes' from filming. They had a number of suits built, but we couldn't use the close-up suit because they didn't 'walk' and the arm movements were limited.
We went to Atlanta to tape the TV spots and meet the Turner and WCW executives. They gave us a tour of their wrestling school, and we met Sting. No, not the singer...the wrestler.
Talk about first impressions...what do you say to a guy with a full face of make-up, bright blonde hair in spikes who is wearing black spandex tights? Try it sometime...small talk with a professional wrestler ain't easy unless you're a fan.
A few short weeks later it was on to Washington D.C., and the surreal world of live professional wrestling. The Turner and Orion press departments had done a great job of building excitement for the appearance of RoboCop in the 'squared circle'. The stadium was sold out, and the PPV orders were breaking records.
We arrived the day before for rehearsals. That's right, rehearsals. Each wrestler has a storyline to follow, and they work out their movements in the ring in detail. They had signals, the ref's help and it's all staged for the cameras and the audience for maximum entertainment. It was like watching a rehearsal for a Soap Opera, but with lots more makeup and supplements (wink and a nod).
The wrestlers arrived by limo in designer suits and diamonds. They certainly didn't look like Wall Street bankers, but it was all business. We worked on the storyline, and how RoboCop would enter the show. Not all of them liked the idea, but the hardest part was getting the stuntman to be able to climb into the ring wearing the costume.
Another difficult problem was his size. RoboCop in a theatre is 30 feet tall, in real life he's 5'8". Against a 6'6 wrestler he doesn't look that menacing. Some quick thinking and a few blocks of dry ice solved that problem...and we made sure that nobody got too close.
I had never been in a stadium that was that loud. It was like standing next to a jet engine at full throtle..the entire night. The fans were unbelievable. It was fully choreographed frenzy the likes of which I had never seen. The matches were amazing to watch. And they roar from the crowd just added to the excitement.
When Robo walked down the gauntlet to the ring, the wrestlers scattered in all directions and everyone went absolutely crazy.
It was perfect.
PS. The smoking rules in theatres were different then, and the distribution team at Orion put out a special 'no smoking' policy trailer for theatres months before the release. If you missed it then, enjoy it now.