‘RoboCop’ At 30: Exploring The ’80s Thriller’s Texas Roots

An anniversary-inspired look into the filming of “RoboCop” explains why Dallas viewers may experience déjà vu when they watch the 80s classic.

By Leah ScarpelliJuly 17, 2017 4:24 pm

The beloved apocalyptic thriller “RoboCop” hit theaters 30 years ago Monday. And whether you’ve seen the film casually or are an avid fan, you may not know that the city filmmakers portrayed as “Old Detroit” was actually none other than Dallas, Texas.

The Dallas Observer’s Danny Gallagher took a special anniversary-inspired look into how the box office hit impacted the city’s filmmaking scene. He says that creators were looking for a location with both glam and grit, and Dallas ticked those boxes.

“They weren’t looking for a “Jetsons” future town, they were looking for like maybe 20, 30 years in the future,” Gallagher says. “And they ended up in Dallas because it had a nice mix of kind of sleek, futuristic looking, postmodern architecture downtown, like Reunion Arena and Renaissance Plaza and places like that, and it also had kind of some grittier, dirtier streets that they could basically just blow to hell if they needed to.”

Gallagher says that the film did a good job concealing its actual shooting location from viewers who were unfamiliar with Dallas’ municipal buildings – except for one car chase scene that may have exposed its Texas roots.

“They hide it so well, in fact, I’ll just give a little easter egg,” Gallagher says. “There’s only one surefire sign that you know it’s even in Texas. During that car chase scene Alex Murphy and his partner pull alongside the driver’s side of Clarence Boddicker’s van and you see in the background a building that says ‘Texas Industries’, and that’s really the only surefire sign.”

He says that the creators also thought Texas would be a good place to blow stuff up in the middle of the night, though sometimes the bang was a little bigger than anticipated.

“I should say some of the explosions were a little bigger than some of the crew and some of the city members expected, and it attracted some attention,” Gallagher says.

He says that though “RoboCop” is known for it’s gore, it’s got a softer side and a smarter side that viewers can grow into.

“Yes, it’s surprisingly touching for a movie with that much fake blood and explosions in it.”


Written by Lila Weatherly.