During Battlefield Earth’s production, pretty much everyone realized that things weren’t going well and that the production was being made on the cheap; everyone but John Travolta, that is.
Travolta still felt that the movie would succeed and that it would spur a rush of “new meat” into the Scientology orgs. Scientology had hoped for the same result as well. Bookstores would be flooded with new copies of Battlefield Earth and a new “Golden age” of Scientology would be the result. The church, however, tried to downplay its attachment to the project. The book, while written by L. Ron Hubbard, had nothing to do with Scientology, they claimed. The money would go to Author Services, not Scientology. These statements were true, though misleading. Battlefield Earth wasn’t specifically about Scientology, though it was supposed to be how the future would be like without Scientology. The proceeds from the book would go to Author Services, though Author Services was wholly owned by Scientology. While Scientology was originally viewed as a harmless group of crazies, it took on a more sinister reputation by 2000. Thus the studio was eager to sweep the Scientology connection under the rug.
For better or worse, the film premiered in 2000 in a gala opening on Hollywood Boulevard. A who’s who of celebrity Scientologists and other Hollywood Stars turned out for the premiere. It was probably the last time that John Travolta felt positively about the project. Critics would uniformly pan the film, declaring it to be one of the worst ever made. Originally, Scientology bought out showings of the film to juice the box office receipts. After a colossal failure of an opening weekend, even Scientology bailed from supporting the movie. It seemed that only Travolta would hold out hope for the film’s prospects, insisting that a sequel would be produced long after everyone else had written the movie off as a box office bomb.
Even the toy tie-ins were second class- the action figures were allegedly from another movie with new heads screwed on. Battlefield Earth would eventually become legendary- but for all the wrong reasons.