The restaurant chain built on the star-wattage of celebrity investors like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, already troubled by free-falling earnings, now stands accused of faking one of its trademark selling points: Its movie props.
A new report in Business Week magazine says that diners should look twice when they stare into the restaurants' glass display cases. What they think they see may not be what they get.
Citing unnamed memorabilia collectors, the article says some of the so-called authentic costumes, models and assorted knickknacks are not so authentic after all--and questions whether they've ever actually been before cameras. One example is noted: A U.S.S. Enterprise model that could be a real Star Trek artifact, or as it charges, a copy by a Canoga Park, California, model-maker.
The memorabilia collectors are peeved because a glut of fake props will cut into the going prices for the originals. (A real Enterprise fetches upwards of $100,000, the magazine reports.)
Planet Hollywood execs deny they're trying to pull movie-magic trickery on customers. The company's CEO tells Business Week that there are no more than five replicas in each restaurant, and that they are labeled as such.
Propgate is likely a low priority at Planet Hollywood headquarters, where the company's universe is being rocked by a suddenly iffy financial future.
The 78-restaurant chain last week announced a $45 million loss in the fourth quarter--an unexpected development, to say the least.
Planeteers immediately announced a plan of action: Scale back expansion plans (including those of its sister chain, the sports-themed All Star Cafe); scrap plans for a chain of Marvel Manias, the would-be dream eateries of comic-book fans; cut expenses and staff; and, most importantly, recruit a batch of "new, up-and-coming stars" to hang out at its establishments.
That last one might prove to be a neat trick, indeed. According to the New York tabs, the A-list "new, up-and-coming stars" aren't going to fall over themselves to be seen at a cooling hot spot.
Sometimes, it's a cruel world. Or Planet.