Feature

The man who wrote the worst film ever

A decade after the release of Battlefield Earth, J.D. Shapiro says he is at peace with his role in one of the biggest Hollywood flops of all time.

J.D. Shapiro would like to apologize to everyone who paid good money to see Battlefield Earth—widely considered to be the worst big-budget movie ever. Shapiro, who is not a Scientologist, was hired to write the original screenplay for the film, based on a science-fiction novel by Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The movie depicts a garish, evil race of aliens called “Psychlos” who enslave the population of Earth.

Shapiro tells the New York Post that he wrote a much “darker and grittier” screenplay, with more realistic characters. “What it didn’t have,” he says, “was slow motion at every turn, Dutch tilts, campy dialogue, aliens in KISS boots, and everyone wearing Bob Marley wigs.” Shapiro says Scientology acolyte John Travolta added these absurdities while rewriting his script. But a decade after the film’s release, Shapiro says he is at peace with his role in one of the biggest Hollywood flops of all time. “Looking back at the movie with fresh eyes, I can’t help but be strangely proud it,” he says. “Because out of all the sucky movies, mine is the suckiest.

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