16 May, 2000
Travolta gets a trouncing
FROM PETER SHERIDAN IN LOS ANGELES
John Travolta's credibility received a major blow yesterday after his new movie Battlefield Earth was trounced at the box office following the most savage reviews Hollywood has seen in years.
Travolta produced and promoted the £55million sci-fi film based on a novel by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the controversial scientology cult, of which the actor has been a member for 25 years.
But the movie, condemned as a monstrous folly by the critics, earned just £7.6million at the US box office over the weekend - less than half the takings for Gladiator.
The Roman epic, starring Russell Crowe, outdid Battlefield Earth even though it has been running for a week in US cinemas and has an adult rating.
Travolta's movie, which is set on an Earth conquered by aliens in the year 3000, showcases him as the evil leader of a 9ft tall alien race called the Psychlos.
Slating the film, CNN TV critic Paul Clinton said: "Let's get one thing straight. Battlefield Earth was only made because John Travolta wanted it made. It's been his baby from start to finish. It's not a pretty baby."
People magazine declared it "Travolta's travesty", while Entertainment Weekly labelled it "dismal". The Los Angeles Daily News branded Battlefield Earth "a hollow and unintelligible movie" and the Los Angeles Times questioned Travolta's "embarrassing performance".
The star says the film has nothing to do with scientology, insisting: "It's about popcorn and entertainment. L. Ron Hubbard is as famous for his work as a fiction writer as he is for his work as a philosopher, and I hope people realise that."There is one hope for Travolta. Some critics believe the film is so risible it could become a camp classic.