Thursday, Feb. 09, 2012

Planet Hollywood

In a town famous for smash up movie pitches ("What if the Alien fought the Predator?"), the early '90s launch of Planet Hollywood must have seemed like a no-brainer. Take four of the biggest movie stars on the planet — Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore — partner them with Robert Earl, co-founder and CEO of the Hard Rock Cafe, feature Hollywood memorabilia from blockbuster movies and TV shows and you have a can't miss dining experience, right? Well, sort of. Planet Hollywood opened with a splash in New York in October 1991 and, following the Hard Rock model, quickly spread to dozens of major cities. The venture quickly went down hill: it steadily lost money, Arnold terminated his contract in 1998, the stock's value sunk below a dollar until it delisted in 1999 and, finally, the company filed for its first of two bankruptcies later that year. Miraculously, the chain survived, and went launched a casino and resort in Las Vegas in 2007. Today, you can still find Planet Hollywood in Times Square, Orlando and Myrtle Beach as well as overseas in Riyadh, Kuwait, Dubai and Guam, but ironically, in Hollywood the chain is nowhere to be found.