'Battlefield Earth' Screenwriter Writes Hilarious Open Apology
The movie was a sci-fi bomb based on a novel by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and starred John Travolta.
Shapiro came about the project in 1994 by reading that the Scientology Center was a "great place to meet women." He found it wasn't, but he ended up meeting Karen Hollander, president of the center, who was a fan of the Shapiro-penned "Robin Hood: Men in Tights." She suggested a movie based on a book by Hubbard.
He agreed, dined with John Travolta, wrote and sold a script to studios that he was proud of, and then had that script radically altered.
But first he tried Scientology:
I took a few courses, including the Purification Rundown, or Purif. You go to CC [Celebrity Center] every day, take vitamins and go in and out of a sauna so toxins are released from your body. You're supposed to reach an "End Point." I never did, but I was bored so I told them I had a vision of L. Ron. They said, "What did he say?" "Pull my finger," was my response. They said I was done.
Scientology didn't take, but he penned the script anyway:
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...
Then I got another batch of notes. 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 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.
In the end he shared screenwriting credit on the project, as he would have had to sacrifice his payday to take his name off the picture.
But in the end, he's proud.
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.
The whole thing is hilarious, read it here.