An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn

An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (stylized on-screen as Burn Hollywood Burn) is a 1997 American mockumentary comedy film directed by Arthur Hiller (using the Alan Smithee pseudonym), written by Joe Eszterhas, and starring Eric Idle as the protagonist, a director unfortunately named Alan Smithee. The film follows Smithee as he steals the negatives to his latest film and goes on the run.

An Alan Smithee Film:
Burn Hollywood Burn
Theatrical release poster
Directed byArthur Hiller
(as Alan Smithee)
Produced byBen Myron
Written byJoe Eszterhas
Music by
CinematographyReynaldo Villalobos
Edited byL. James Langlois
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • October 1997 (1997-10) (Mill Valley)
  • February 27, 1998 (1998-02-27) (United States)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$10 million
Box office$52,850[1]

Critically panned, the film "won" five awards (including Worst Picture) at the 1998 Golden Raspberry Awards.

The film's creation set off a chain of events which led the Directors Guild of America to officially discontinue the Alan Smithee credit in 2000.[2] Its plot, about a director attempting to disown a film, ironically described the film's own production; director Hiller requested that his name be removed after witnessing the final cut of the film by the studio.


A director, Alan Smithee, has been allowed to direct Trio, a big-budget action film starring Sylvester Stallone, Whoopi Goldberg and Jackie Chan. The studio recuts the film, and when Smithee sees the results (which he describes as being "worse than Showgirls"), he wants to disown the film. However, since his name is also the pseudonym used by Hollywood when someone does not want to have their name attached to a bad film, he steals the film and flees, threatening to destroy the film by burning it.


Cameos as themselves


Development and writing

The film was written (and produced, though he was not credited for it) by Joe Eszterhas, who became the first person to win four Golden Raspberry awards for a single film: Worst Picture, Worst Screenplay and both Worst Supporting Actor and Worst New Star for a brief cameo appearance (he also received a co-nomination for the Worst Screen Couple award, since Burn Hollywood Burn was nominated for "any two people appearing together onscreen"; however, the movie did not "win" in this category). The released film credits the Alan Smithee pseudonym as director because Arthur Hiller, the film's real director, objected to the way Eszterhas recut the film, and as a result, had his name removed (however, in his autobiography, Hollywood Animal, Eszterhas claims that Hiller still sat in the editing room with him to make certain suggestions). In his entry on Burn Hollywood Burn for his "My Year of Flops" column in The A.V. Club, pop culture critic Nathan Rabin sarcastically commented that Hiller's decision to use the Alan Smithee credit was "very transparently not a stupid, stupid gimmick to raise interest in a terrible film".[3]


Box office

The film had an estimated budget of $10 million and grossed at least $52,850, as it was released in only 19 theaters.[1]

Critical reception

Film critic Roger Ebert, reviewing for the Chicago Sun-Times, gave Burn Hollywood Burn a score of zero stars, his lowest possible rating.[4]

The film currently holds an 8% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 40 reviews, with a weighted average of 2.7/10. The critical consensus calls it "A witless Hollywood satire whose hammy, obvious jokes are neither funny nor insightful of the movie business."[5] Eric Idle himself said in various interviews meant to promote the film that "this is rather dreadful".


Award Subject Nominee Subject
Razzie Award Worst Picture Ben Myron Won
Joe Eszterhas Won
Worst Screenplay Won
Worst New Star Won
Worst Supporting Actor Won
Sylvester Stallone Nominated
Worst Actor Ryan O'Neal Nominated
Worst Original Song "I Wanna Be Mike Ovitz" Won
Worst Screen Couple Any combination of two people playing themselves Nominated
Worst Director Arthur Hiller as Alan Smithee Nominated
Stinker Award Worst Picture Hollywood Pictures Nominated
Most Painfully Unfunny Comedy Nominated
Worst Sense of Direction Arthur Hiller Nominated
Worst On-Screen Hairstyle Joe Eszterhas Won


Preceded by
The Postman
Razzie Award for Worst Picture
19th Golden Raspberry Awards
Succeeded by
Wild Wild West
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