The Sci-Fi Star Wars Ripoff On Disney+ Was The Most Expensive Film Ever Made

By Douglas Helm | Published

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A long, long time ago in…our galaxy, Disney didn’t own the Star Wars franchise. But after George Lucas’ original film took Hollywood by storm in 1977, Disney (and numerous other studios) were quick to try and make some space epics of their own. One of the offspring of this movement was 1979’s The Black Hole, which not only ended up being Disney’s first PG rated movie, but was also its most expensive movie made at that time.

The Black Hole

The Black Hole is a film that follows Kate McCrae (Yvette Mimieux), a scientist aboard the USS Palomino spaceship who comes across the USS Cygnus, a ship that was presumed missing and where her father had served as a crew member.

The crew of the USS Palomino board the ship to find Dr. Reindhardt (Maximilian Schell) and his faceless army, who look to be the first black hole explorers for humanity.

The Black Whole Cast And Budget

The film also stars Robert Forster, Joseph Bottoms, Anthony Perkins, and Ernest Borgnine, with uncredited performances by Roddy McDowall and Slim Pickens as the two main robot characters.

Disney wasn’t messing around when it funded The Black Hole, putting a whopping $20 million toward production and another $6 million toward advertising. This was the company’s most expensive picture at the time.

Star Wars Comparisons Including The Score

the black hole

Gary Nelson directed the movie from a screenplay by Gerry Day and Jeb Rosebrook. The music for the film was composed by John Barry, who was best known for his work on the James Bond franchise.

Barry’s bombastic score for The Black Hole immediately drew the Star Wars comparisons, as this Disney feature starts out with an overture, although they decided to avoid a straight rip-off by not including a text scroll alongside the score.

Never Came Close To Star Wars

the black hole

Of course, this strange film never came close to the massive success of Star Wars, drawing mixed reviews from audiences and critics and grossing $35 million at the US box office. However, it did nab two Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects, so it certainly wasn’t devoid of acclaim.

A Space Opera

the black hole

The Black Hole may not have been the Star Wars-like success that Disney was hoping for, but its score, costumes, and cute robot companions certainly brought the space opera to mind.

Besides the Star Wars comparisons, the film also drew inspiration from hits like The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It wasn’t nearly as good as its inspirations, unlike Star Wars which was able to match or transcend the heavy inspirations it drew from.

Streaming The Black Hole

the black hole

The Black Hole is certainly an interesting film that is sure to divide fresh viewers, but for now, it seems like it will go down as a footnote in Disney’s history.

In 2009, there were plans to remake the movie with Tron: Legacy and Top Gun: Maverick’s Joseph Kosinski, but Kosinski revealed in 2022 that the project was canceled for being too similar to Interstellar. But, while we may never get a remake of this strange Disney film, you can at least check it out for yourself over on Disney+.

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