Mars Attacks! is a 1996 American comic science fiction horror film directed by Tim Burton, who also co-produced it with Larry J. Franco. The screenplay, which was based on the cult trading card series of the same name, was written by Jonathan Gems. The film features an ensemble cast consisting of Jack Nicholson (in a dual role), Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, Rod Steiger, Tom Jones, Lukas Haas, Natalie Portman, Jim Brown, Lisa Marie Smith, and Sylvia Sidney. The film is a parody of science fiction B movies overall and includes elements of black comedy and political satire.
Alex Cox had tried to make a Mars Attacks film in the 1980s before Burton and Gems began development in 1993. When Gems turned in his first draft in 1994, Warner Bros. commissioned rewrites from Gems, Burton, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski in an attempt to lower the budget to $60 million. The final production budget came to $80 million, while Warner Bros. spent another $20 million on the Mars Attacks! marketing campaign. Filming took place from February to November 1996. The film was shot in California, Nevada, Kansas, Arizona and Argentina. The soundtrack became famous for the Martians’ quirky speech pattern, which was created by reversing the sound of a duck’s quack.
The filmmakers hired Industrial Light & Magic to create the Martians using computer animation after their previous plan to use stop motion, supervised by Barry Purves, fell through because of budget limitations. Mars Attacks! was released theatrically by Warner Bros. Pictures in the United States on December 13, 1996 and received mixed reviews from critics. The film is now considered a cult film. The film grossed approximately $101 million in box office totals, which was seen as a disappointment. Mars Attacks! was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and earned multiple nominations at the Saturn Awards.
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