A new-concept eatery endorsed by Hollywood heavyweights Schwarzennegger, Stallone and Willis, the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain offered its clientele the unique experience of dining at the Movies. The London site (at the Trocadero in Leicester Square) was opened in 1993 and attended by a galaxy of stars, an event gradually repeated all over the world.
Besides the menu (offering some cuisine using recipes from Schwarzennegger’s mother) the decor was an astonishing array of genuine props culled from blockbuster movies instantly making it a museum-like attraction for fans. Indeed, its UK status meant James Bond was well-represented by having an entire section devoted to 007 memorabilia in a seating area enclosed by a gun-barrel.
Pictured above are the two exhibits donated by special effects artist John Evans which had never before been in public exhibition – the Crystal Starship miniature and special effects Superman flying puppet. Encased in clear acrylic, the intricate model ship was approx. two feet tall and although some pylons were missing was in excellent condition given its fragility. On closer inspection the centre pod was an intriguing fusion of cotton wool and glitter.
The Superman figure was suspended from the ceiling and was quite large at approx four feet long. Though lacking cape and with perished hands the figure bore an unmistakable likeness to Christopher Reeve and was also notable for being clad in a costume clearly made from the same fabric as the full-size versions. A set of umbrella-style poles were still intact on the back indicating the figure was used for flying sequences in some capacity as again this was the same method used for animating the cape worn by Reeve himself.
As the chain expanded during the nineties and to keep the decor fresh, a decision was made to circulate the props on display from site to site – this meant both Superman pieces and many others would disappear from the London restaurant after a few years and re-used. The current whereabouts of both of these great examples is sadly unknown…