Because it had something for everyone:
Pacifist hippies getting beaten up by rednecks.
Semi-Indian decidedly non-pacifist kinda hot friend-of-the-hippies beating up the rednecks.
Quaker teacher rape.
Howard Hessman prepping for his WKRP role.
And soooooo 70s: a peace-and-love themesong performed by Satanists.
The film was a hit and Laughlin revived the character in 1971 in the film Billy Jack. However, he was angry with Warner Brothers’ lukewarm marketing of the film. He engaged in a high profile battle to win back distribution rights and finally prevailed in court. In 1974 Laughlin took the bold step of investing millions of dollars in re-marketing a movie that had not been a major success. This time, however, he used an innovative distribution method called “four walling” which centered on renting a wide number of theaters across the country and keeping all of the boxoffice revenues. Laughlin’s plan worked so well that it permanently changed distribution patterns of major films which had once been centered on the premise of rolling out releases in slow, methodical manner. Suddenly “wide” releases became the norm and the strategy helped make Jaws the top boxoffice attraction of all time. (…)
Laughlin never ceased in expressing his distrust for whoever was running the show in Washington. At various times he was seen as a radicial leftist but at other times he seemed to extol beliefs of the right wing fringe movement. In short, he annoyed both sides. By having taken on the studio system, he was deemed toxic by the big money people in the industry. Working with his wife and co-star Delores, he tried repeatedly to get other film projects off the ground without success. He made three quixotic attempts to run for President as a Republican but was ignored by the party establishment.
I smell a biopic — one starring… who?