Mars Attacks! is a 1996 American comic science fiction film directed and produced by Tim Burton and inspired by 60s sci-fi trading cards.
The film features an ensemble cast consisting of Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, Rod Steiger, Tom Jones, Lukas Haas, Pam Grier, Natalie Portman, Jim Brown, Jack Black, Lisa Marie, and Sylvia Sidney in her final film role.
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 filmmakers hired Industrial Light & Magic to create the Martians using computer animation after their previous plan to use stop motion animation, fell through because of budget limitations. Mars Attacks! was released theatrically in the United States on December 13, 1996 and received mixed reviews from critics. The film grossed approximately $101 million in box office totals, which was seen as a disappointment.
The film was considered a “box office bomb”, but generally achieved greater success both critically and commercially in Europe. Many observers found similarities with Independence Day, which also came out in 1996. “It was just a coincidence. Nobody told me about it. I was surprised how close it was,” director Tim Burton continued, “but then it’s a pretty basic genre I guess. Independence Day was different in tone – it was different in everything. It almost seemed like we had done kind of a Mad magazine version of Independence Day.”
Mars Attacks! was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and earned multiple nominations at the Saturn Awards.