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John Travolta has certainly made a good handful of stinkers over the years, but many would probably agree that his most notorious flop was the 2000 blockbuster sci-fi movie Battlefield Earth. Based on the novel by L. Ron Hubbard and both starring and produced by Travolta, the movie was completely eviscerated by critics and would up being a massive box office failure both domestically and abroad. The film was a defined failure by many standards, but to this day the star does not see it that way. Instead, he just chooses to push the blame to one specific target.
While at the Toronto International Film Festival promoting his new movie The Forger, Travolta sat down with The Daily Beast and revealed some interesting information regarding his modern opinions about Battlefield Earth - which don't seem to have changed in the last 14 years. The interviewer asked the actor if he had any career regrets, specifically pointing to the L. Ron Hubbard adaptation, and Travolta not only revealed how proud he is of the movie, but also that he thinks it's the media's fault it failed. According to him, the press couldn't see past the film's connection to Scientology - a problem that also plagued another one of his less-successful titles.
"It’s a good movie. Again, the media angle confused the movie with [Scientology].... They did that with Phenomenon, too, and Phenomenon is really the story of Jesus Christ. It’s not Scientology!"
What adds a particularly interesting extra level to this story is the key reason why Travolta still loves Battlefield Earth so much: he basically had unlimited power during the production. Explaining that he chose a book that he felt was worthy of being adapted for the big screen experience, the actor added,
"If we had to do it over again, I would still do it. It was a moment where I could say, 'I had all the power in the world and could do whatever I wanted.' Not a lot of people get that opportunity, and I did what I wanted to do."
John Travolta hasn't produced a movie since Battlefield Earth in 2000, and it's the box office numbers that perhaps best illustrate why. The blockbuster, which also starred Barry Pepper, Forest Whitaker and Kim Coates, had a reported budget of $73 million before marketing, but by the time it was done in theaters worldwide it had only managed to make a grand total of $29 million. It remains on the record book for one of the worst openings ever for a film released in more than 3,000 theaters. In short, it was a bomb.
That said, with Battlefield Earth's 15th anniversary coming up next year, maybe now is the perfect time to look back at the time when the movie was first released. Did any of you actually see it in theaters? Feel free to pack the comments section below with your memories.