All Men Are Perverts: Hilariously enough, J.D. Shapiro admits in his apology letter that he got involved at first because he read that the Scientology centre was "a great place to pick up women", and it snowballed from there.
Billing Displacement: The film was supposed to be about Jonnie's quest to save Earth, but advertisements heavily focus on John Travolta, who plays the antagonist Terl.
Box Office Bomb: The film made $29,725,663 on a budget of $44 million, not counting marketing or Franchise Pictures' embezzlement, which pushed it to $75 million.
J.D. Shapiro, the original screenwriter, openly apologized for this film, and even personally received the film's Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Movie of the Decade, 2000–2009.
Barry Pepper (Jonny) said that had he known he was going to win the Worst Supporting Actor award at the 21st Razzies, he would have shown up to accept his trophy in person, too.
Forest Whitaker (Ker) has also gone on record saying that he regrets appearing in the movie. Apparently even the lure of money wasn't enough to justify it in his eyes.
Even the film's cinematographer, Giles Nuttgens, has gone on record as saying that the overuse of color filters and Dutch angles wasn't his idea, and that he was given the smallest lighting budget he had ever worked with.
Creator Killer: In addition to the film grossly underperforming in all areas, the egregious case of Hollywood Accounting involved in the production led to Franchise Pictures being sued into bankruptcy. John Travolta's hopes of producing the sequel at all and having any creative input in future movies has also been given a handicap, and Roger Christian hasn't been a major director in cinema since 2000.
Doing It for the Art: The production could be seen as a Deconstruction of this trope. Travolta poured so much money, time, and passion into a project that wound up being considered one of the worst films ever and turned him into a laughingstock.
It has also been alleged that David Miscavige, the infamous leader of the Church of Scientology, influenced much of Travolta's decision-making through the production and threw him under the bus when the film bombed.
Before that, J.D. Shapiro, the first screenwriter, was fired because the first studio that expressed an interest in the project (MGM) wanted to change his script too much (which he knew would be a bad decision …). He practically disowned the film, and even decided to accept his Razzies.
This was the last movie Franchise Films helped finance. According to the lawsuit and federal investigation afterward, this studio made a living starving movies of their planned budgets and taking the leftover as pure profit. In this case, the $75 million budget film only got $44 million.
Just Plane Wrong: Oh, so many examples. Nothing should be working after about a millennium; it takes years, not weeks, to learn to fly one; none of them has flight suits and yet they're all stunt dogfighter material. On the positive side, they do mention that Harrier jets can hover.
Harriers are so unreliable that it is almost ridiculous to suggest they can even be repaired.
The Merch: Yes, it's true: Battlefield Earth actually had a toyline. It was one of Trendmasters' last ones, in fact.
Old Shame: Forest Whitaker has apologized for his involvement in the film, as has co-writer J.D. Shapiro. For that matter, you could probably say: "Everyone who did anything for this movie except John Travolta."
Re Cut: The version on VHS and DVD removes a few scenes, adds a scene of the heroes discovering the instructions for the nuclear warhead, and the opening crawl that states the bloody obvious. The versions aired on TV are the original theatrical cut. For those scenes, see Deleted Scene.
Wag the Director: The DVD Commentary makes it clear that Travolta, not Roger Christian, was in the driver's seat. Considering his status as driving force behind the project and probable writer of the script though, perhaps the wonder is that he wasn't actually the director.
Travolta had both a sequel and an animated series planned even before the film was released.
On another note, J. David Shapiro's first draft for the film.
Travolta had wanted to make The Film of the Book since the latter was published in 1982, but he wanted to star as the rebellious human Jonnie. By the time he got funding, he decided he was too old to fit the role (one of precious few good judgments the production made).