Battlefield Earth recently won the Razzie for Worst Movie of the Decade, which screenwriter J.D. Shapiro proudly accepted in person. Shapiro penned Robin Hood: Men in Tights, so how did he end up responsible for such a ridiculous, stupid film? Thankfully he wrote an editorial in the NY Post explaining how this shitty movie came to be.
He starts by apologizing to anyone that actually saw the film, and goes on to reveal how it came about. Like most mistakes by men it actually came out of a failed attempt to get laid, as Shapiro had heard that the Church of Scientology was a great place to meet women. Finding out that it wasn’t the case after meeting a few of them, he nevertheless read L. Ron Hubbard’s book Battlefield Earth and pitched MGM his take for a screenplay, getting them on board with a budget of 100 million dollars. Things looked great… for a while.
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.
When John Travolta got on board the project, Shaprio was told to change the script.
I thought it was a joke. They changed the entire tone. I knew these notes would kill the movie. The notes wanted me to lose key scenes, add ridiculous scenes, take out some of the key characters. I asked Mike [Marcus, president of MGM] where they came from. He said, “From us.” But when I pressed him, he said, “From John’s camp, but we agree with them.”
I refused to incorporate the notes into the script and was fired.
Read the whole article, it’s pretty funny. Also- if you’ve avoided witnessing how awful the film actually is for yourself, simply check out the below clips from the incredible Rifftrax version- really the only way to see it.