Having been a movie star for more than five decades, John Travolta is entitled to reflect on the ups and downs of his career. The best roles he has undertaken in that period of time speak for themselves. Grease, Face Off, Blow Out, Carrie and The Thin Red Line are among the highest rated in that category on IMDb.
Travolta was only paid $150,000 for his part in Pulp Fiction as his career was at a all time low though he did get a bonus as the film sold well at the box office.
His star turn as Vincent Vega in Quentin Tarantino’s cult classic Pulp Fiction takes the day, however. It is a role he took on after saying no to the even more successful Forrest Gump, with Tom Hanks taking on the part that he turned down in that particular film. The Robert Zemeckis-directed project ended up making three times what Pulp Fiction did at the box office.
Travolta was never one to shy away from turning down roles that he never felt completely at home with. He famously backed out of a $17 million deal to star in Roman Polanski’s The Double, a move which saw him sued and plans for the production of the movie collapse altogether.
On the other side of the pendulum, Battlefield Earth is considered one of – if not the – worst film of Travolta’s career.
What Is The Premise Of Battlefield Earth?
Battlefield Earth was released in May 2000, having been produced on a handsome budget of around $70 million. Corey Mandell and J. D. Shapiro wrote the screenplay for the project, based on the 1982 novel Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 by L. Ron Hubbard.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the plot summary for the film reads: “In the year 3000, there are no countries, no cities… Earth is a wasteland. And man is an endangered species. As the leader of the evil Psychlos, Terl and his race have taken over the world’s natural resources and disregarded everyone and everything else. It’s up to Jonnie “Goodboy” Tyler, a brave human, to battle the Psychlos and restore normalcy to the world.”
Following his success in Pulp Fiction, John Travolta took it upon himself to see Hubbard’s book translated to the big screen.
That dream became reality in the late ‘90s, when production on the film started in earnest. He was joined in the main cast by – among others, Barry Pepper, Forest Whitaker and Kim Coates.
Battlefield Earth Was Both A Commercial And Critical Failure
Battlefield Earth flopped so seriously after its release, that it is widely considered one of the worst movies of all time. From the $70 million budget that had gone into production, the movie could not even hit the $30 million mark in box office returns.
To add salt to injury, it would later emerge that the main studio in charge of the project had overstated the amount of money involved in the making of the film. This led to a suit against the outfit by investors. In 2002, a court ruled that the company had to make payouts to the tune of $77 million for overinflating the budgets of up to 17 movies.
On the critical side, things did not look any brighter for Battlefield Earth. Acclaimed critic Roger Ebert did not hold back, for instance, saying: “Battlefield Earth is like taking a bus trip with someone who has needed a bath for a long time. It’s not merely bad; it’s unpleasant in a hostile way.”
Other phrases used to describe the movie include “appalling,” “rubbish” and “third-string.”
What Does John Travolta Think Of Battlefield Earth’s Performance?
There can be no debating just how poorly Battlefield Earth performed by all universal metrics. It is not quite that black and white for John Travolta, however, as the actor still insists on the merits of the film. In September 2014, the Saturday Night Fever star was interviewed by The Daily Beast, where he expressed his exact thoughts on the much criticized movie.
Asked whether he had any regrets about making Battlefield Earth, his response was resolute: “No way, are you kidding? Why would I ever regret that? I had the power to do whatever I wanted, and I chose to do a book that I thought was worthy of making into a movie. It’s a beautiful film. It’s a good movie.”
In the process of starring in and driving the production of such a commercial failure, Travolta actually ended up costing himself a fortune to the tune of around $15 million. The actor reportedly turned down the massive up front payment with hopes that the movie would smash it at the box office.
The gamble seriously backfired on Travolta, although his very lavish net worth might help explain why he carries little or no regret for it.
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