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Trivia / Battlefield Earth

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The Film

  • 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.
  • Blatant Lies: A meta example. A week after the film won nine Razzies that year, Travolta claimed the film was "edging toward the $100m mark".
  • 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.
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  • Cast the Runner-Up: John 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).
  • Creator Backlash:
    • 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.
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    • 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.
  • Deleted Scene: Plenty of 'em here.
  • 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.
  • Executive Meddling:
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    • It's been pretty much stated that John Travolta was in charge of everything. 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.
    • According to the lawsuit and federal investigation afterward, Franchise Pictures 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.
  • The Merch: Yes, Battlefield Earth actually had a toyline. It was one of Trendmasters' last ones, in fact.
  • Money, Dear Boy: Forest Whitaker has admitted did it for the pay gig.
  • 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."
  • Real-Life Relative: Travolta's wife, Kelly Preston, plays Terl's girlfriend.
  • Saved from Development Hell: John Travolta had been trying to get the film made since 1983.
  • Star-Derailing Role: For EVERYONE. At least Forest Whitaker would eventually bounce back with The Last King of Scotland, but he would not get involved with another sci-fi film until 2016 with the double whammy of Arrival and Rogue One.
    • But the saddest has to be that of the leading man, Barry Pepper. Fresh of his acclaimed role as Friendly Sniper Jackson from Saving Private Ryan, Battlefield Earth was Pepper's first big role after and his first even role as the leading man in a major blockbuster. It would also be his last.
  • Stillborn Franchise: There were originally going to be sequels based on the rest of the book. It also indirectly killed Franchise Pictures as well.
  • Troubled Production: The film took almost twenty years to finally get to the big screen. L. Ron Hubbard intended for the book to be turned into a movie from the moment he had it finished. When Hubbard died, John Travolta started trying to get it made into a film. It wouldn't be until he had a Career Resurrection in Pulp Fiction that he had enough star power to convince anyone to touch it. He started putting even more effort in 1995 and it took another four years to get the film greenlit. When filming began, the production team had to move from the U.S. to Canada to keep costs down. Even then, the budget ended up ballooning to the point where it became the most expensive film ever shot in Canada. Travolta's makeup proved to be challenging for the actor. Production ended up taking so long that Travolta had to cancel two other roles to finish Battlefield. Right before the film was set to release, a version of the screenplay was leaked and retitled (as "Dark Forces") online. Reviews for the screenplay were scathing, pretty much ensuring the film to be the complete commercial disaster that it was. Travolta's career arguably hasn't recovered since.
  • Wag the Director: The DVD Commentary makes it clear that John 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.
  • What Could Have Been:

  • Battlefield Earth's Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture of 2000–2009, presented at the 30th ceremony, was its ninth one. Previously, it won seven Razzies (including that for Worst Picture of 2000) at the 21st ceremony and the special award for Worst Drama of 1980–2005 at the 25th.
  • Of the 8 Razzies the film was nominated for at the 21st Golden Raspberry Awards, it won 7 - only reason it didn't win all categories was that the film was nominated twice for "Worst Supporting Actor", with Forest Whitaker losing to Barry Pepper. The only award categories it wasn't nominated for were Worst Remake, Ripoff, or Sequel (which the film didn't qualify for, meeting none of the criteria) and Worst Actress.

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