When people debate the worst movies ever, John Travolta's 2000 sci-fi epic Battlefield Earth is usually high on the list. This month, the Razzie awards called it the Worst Movie of the Decade, which is something we'd have to agree with.
Whatever you may think of it, there's one person who agrees it's a "train wreck": The guy who wrote it. J.D. Shapiro, who also wrote Robin Hood: Men in Tights, is now apologizing for his cinematic crime against humanity in a very funny and self-deprecating piece in the New York Post. Kudos for having a sense of humor.
The movie, as we all know, is based on a book by L. Ron Hubbard, who was a science fiction writer before he went on to found Scientology, of which Travolta is a devoted adherent.
Below are some excerpts from Shapiro's apology. Click over to read the entire hilarious essay.
Let me start by apologizing to anyone who went to see "Battlefield Earth."
It wasn't as I intended—promise. No one sets out to make a train wreck. Actually, comparing it to a train wreck isn't really fair to train wrecks, because people actually want to watch those. ...
I researched Scientology before signing on to the movie, to make sure I wasn't making anything that would indoctrinate people. ...
At dinner, John said again how much he loved the script and called it "The 'Schindler's List' of sci-fi."
My script was very, VERY different than what ended up on the screen. My screenplay was darker, grittier and had a very compelling story with rich characters. What my screenplay didn't have was slow motion at every turn, Dutch tilts, campy dialogue, aliens in KISS boots, and everyone wearing Bob Marley wigs. ...
I refused to incorporate the notes into the script and was fired.
I HAVE no idea why they wanted to go in this new direction, but here's what I heard from someone in John's camp: Out of all the books L. Ron wrote, this was the one the church founder wanted most to become a movie. He wrote extensive notes on how the movie should be made. ...
The only time I saw the movie was at the premiere, which was one too many times.
Once it was decided that I would share a writing credit, I wanted to use my pseudonym, Sir Nick Knack. I was told I couldn't do that, because if a writer gets paid over a certain amount of money, they can't. I could have taken my name completely off the movie, but my agent and attorney talked me out of it. There was a lot of money at stake.
Now, looking back at the movie with fresh eyes, I can't help but be strangely proud of it. Because out of all the sucky movies, mine is the suckiest.