The Star Wars Ripoff On Disney Plus That Was The Most Expensive Movie Ever Made


Long before Disney had the Star Wars universe within its colossal entertainment portfolio, it attempted to carve its own path in the cosmos with the 1979 film The Black Hole.

Launched in the wake of Star Wars’ monumental success, The Black Hole was Disney’s audacious attempt to capture the sci-fi audience’s imagination.

However, despite its lofty ambitions and record-breaking budget, the film fell short of becoming the blockbuster hit Disney had hoped for.

Today, The Black Hole remains an interesting footnote in the annals of cinema history, noteworthy not just for its financial exuberance but also for its daring venture into the unknown.

As the most expensive film ever made by Disney at the time, The Black Hole was a high-stakes gamble that aimed to blend the awe of space exploration with the thrills of a science fiction drama.

Costing a staggering $20 million in production and an additional $6 million in marketing, the film featured cutting-edge visual effects and a star-studded cast, yet it struggled to resonate with audiences and critics alike, grossing only $35 million at the US box office.

Behind The Black Hole


Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

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The Making of a Space Epic

The Black Hole follows the story of the USS Palomino crew who, upon discovering a long-lost ship perched at the edge of a black hole, encounter the mysterious scientist Dr. Reinhardt and his legion of drones.

The film was Disney’s first PG-rated venture, reflecting its darker, more mature theme, which was a significant shift from its traditional family-friendly fare.

Directed by Gary Nelson and scored by the renowned John Barry, known for his work on the James Bond series, the film aimed to dazzle with a dramatic overture and intense, moody aesthetics.

The Cost of Innovation

The budget allocated for The Black Hole was unprecedented for Disney at the time, reflecting both the studio’s commitment to breaking new ground in the sci-fi genre and its response to the Star Wars phenomenon.

The investment went into state-of-the-art special effects, high production values and a promotional blitz aimed at captivating the same audience that had flocked to see George Lucas’s space opera.

Despite these efforts, the film’s performance did not live up to its astronomical budget, and it received mixed reviews for its story and pacing.

Comparisons to Star Wars and Critical Reception


Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

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Inevitable Comparisons and Missed Marks

From its onset, The Black Hole invited comparisons to Star Wars, particularly due to its space setting and futuristic plot.

However, unlike Star Wars, which was praised for its revolutionary effects and compelling narrative, The Black Hole was critiqued for its heavy-handed approach and less engaging storyline.

The film’s score, while impressive, was seen as one of the few highlights in a movie that struggled to define its tone and identity amidst high expectations.

The Legacy and Aftermath

Despite its shortcomings, The Black Hole was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects, which underscored its technical achievements.

The film’s ambitious nature and aesthetic choices have since been reassessed over the years, granting it a cult status among sci-fi aficionados.

Its influence on the genre, while not as profound as Star Wars, continues to be acknowledged by those who appreciate its bold attempt to explore complex themes within the framework of a Disney production.

Final Thoughts on The Black Hole on Disney Plus


Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

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The Black Hole might not have been the blockbuster success Disney envisioned, but it stands as a testament to the studio’s willingness to take risks and push the boundaries of conventional filmmaking during that era.

While it didn’t achieve the enduring legacy of Star Wars, the film remains a fascinating study in ambition, the challenges of cinematic storytelling, and the complexities of film production.

As it stands now on Disney Plus, The Black Hole offers viewers a glimpse into a time when the boundaries of space cinema were being tested, and Disney dared to dream as big as the universe itself.

For those interested in a trip down memory lane or a first-time exploration into Disney’s sci-fi history, The Black Hole is available for streaming, serving as a reminder of both the possibilities and pitfalls of cinematic ambition.

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The Black Hole is available to stream on Disney Plus right now.