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Hops and Box Office Flops: ‘BATTLEFIELD EARTH – Not Fit for Rat-Brain Consumption’


John Travolta—Scientology’s original darling son—spent years attempting to bring L. Ron Hubbard’s not-so-classic science fiction novel Battlefield Earth to the big screen. It was a great passion of his, which, for us viewers, is quite unfortunate. His dogged determination to appease Hubbard—the founder of the Church of Scientology—by bringing his novel to life in the vein of “Star Wars” is what ushered this travesty into the world.

Battlefield Earth, and I don’t say this lightly, is one of the worst films I have ever seen. Putting aside its shameful treatment of logical sense and sound science, it is just not well made. From the dismal lighting to the awkward angles to the laughable costumes, creature designs, and effects, it seems to be intentionally making a mockery of its source material.

But therein lies the issue: The movie is not in on the joke. Sure, there are elements of it where it may seem that it is self-aware—Travolta’s insane turn as Terl—but then you discover that the actor himself once labeled it the “Schindler’s List” of science fiction.

That bloated sense of the project’s own importance is what makes its utter failure so ironic. Battlefield Earth, despite all the backing and might of its church, was a flop, earning just over $29 million on a budget of $44 million (Roughly $12 million of that went to Travolta’s pocket, which may explain why the CGI is so wonky). It is also one of the worst reviewed films of this century, currently sitting at a paltry 3% on Rotten Tomatoes with 148 reviews.

And it wasn’t just critics who hated it. The film’s initial screenwriter, J.D. Shapiro, penned an open letter in the New York Post apologizing for his role in its development.

As with all terrible films, though, this one sure gave us plenty to discuss. So sit back, grab a Mad Elf from Tröegs, and jockey for some all important leverage as I the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK), Capt. Cash, and Chumpzilla smelt some gold and start the man-animal revolution!

This Week’s Segments:

  • Introduction – We break down this epic mess of a movie, even crowning it the inaugural “Bad Movie Champion” of the pod. (00:00)
  • Scientology is Weird, but is It Really That Weird? – I challenge Capt. Cash and Chumpzilla to determine whether these nutty facts about Scientology are True or False. (52:10)
  • Recommendations – We provide our picks for the week, each of which are more entertaining than this movie. (1:07:06)

And, as always, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook to check out all the interesting factoids—the Psychlo stilts, Kelly Preston’s cringe-inducing cameo, and more—from this week’s episode!

You can find this episode of Hops and Box Office Flops on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherPodbean, and Spotify!


Thomas L. Kelly

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