Jack Mars Biography & Facts
Mars Attacks! is a 1996 American science fiction comedy film directed by Tim Burton, who also co-produced it with Larry J. Franco. The screenplay by Jonathan Gems was based on the Topps trading card series of the same name. 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, Pam Grier, Natalie Portman, Jim Brown, Jack Black, Lisa Marie, and Sylvia Sidney in her final film role.
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 June 1996. The film was shot in California, Nevada, Kansas, Arizona and Argentina.
The filmmakers hired Industrial Light & Magic to create the Martians using computer animation after their previous plan to use stop motion animation, 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 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.
When Earth is visited by a massive fleet of flying saucers from Mars, President of the United States James Dale addresses the people of the United States. Talk show host Nathalie Lake and her boyfriend, news reporter Jason Stone, attempt to capitalize on the developing story with an interview with President Dale's scientific advisor Professor Donald Kessler, which is unexpectedly interrupted by a broadcast from the Martian leader. As the Martians prepare to land outside Pahrump, Nevada, numerous people around the country react to their arrival, including donut shop employee Richie Norris and his older brother Billy Glenn, flamboyant casino operator Art Land and his hippie wife Barbara, divorced ex-boxer Byron Williams and his former wife Louise, and Byron and Louise's children Cedric and Neville.
Against the advice of the hawkish General Decker, President Dale chooses to greet the Martians as foreign dignitaries, ordering military officer General Casey to welcome them to Earth. Billy Glenn, a private in the US Army, is among the soldiers who volunteers to accompany General Casey as he greets the Martians in Nevada. Despite the translated message from the Martian ambassador stating that the Martians "come in peace", they turn on the assembled crowd and attack them with rayguns, killing General Casey, Jason, and Billy Glenn, and abducting Nathalie and her pet chihuahua Poppy.
Kessler convinces President Dale that the Martians' attack in Nevada may have been the result of a cultural misunderstanding, and President Dale agrees to let the Martian ambassador address Congress after the Martians issue a formal apology for their actions. Once again, the Martians turn on the assembled humans, massacring most of Congress and abducting Kessler. While Nathalie and Kessler are held captive in the Martian mothership, the Martians switch Nathalie and Poppy's heads and reduce Kessler to a disembodied head.
President Dale narrowly survives an assassination attempt by a Martian disguised as an attractive blonde woman, who infiltrates the White House by seducing and killing his press secretary Jerry Ross. Following the assassination attempt, the Martians commence a full-scale invasion of Earth, attacking major cities throughout the world. When Martian soldiers overrun the White House, First Lady Marsha Dale is killed by a falling chandelier as President Dale escapes to a secure bunker. Shortly after, Land is killed when the Martians destroy his casino in Las Vegas.
In Las Vegas, Barbara prepares to flee to Tahoe in Art's private plane, and offers to let Byron accompany her. The pair are joined by Byron's co-worker Cindy and singer Tom Jones, who offers to pilot the plane. Meanwhile, Richie abandons his parents in their mobile home and goes to his grandmother Florence's retirement home to escort her to safety, leaving his parents to be killed by a Martian piloting a giant robot. At the retirement home, the Martians' brains unexpectedly explode when they hear Florence's record of Slim Whitman's "Indian Love Call", revealing their only weakness.
Eventually, Martian soldiers breach President Dale's secure bunker, crushing General Decker after reducing him to minuscule size with a shrink ray, then leveling their weapons on everyone else in the bunker, causing many to be killed while others flee the bunker, leaving President Dale the last alive in the room. He makes an impassioned speech attempting to convince the Martians to make peace with humanity, but the Martian leader kills him with a gadget disguised as a hand after offering him a handshake.
Barbara, Byron, Cindy, and Tom Jones reach Art's plane, but find the runway overrun by a group of Martians led by the Martian ambassador. To buy time for his companions to escape, Byron steps forward to challenge the ambassador to a boxing match, and beats him to death before being seemingly overrun by Martians as the plane takes off. Around the world, the Martians are defeated as humans play "Indian Love Call" to incapacitate them.
In the aftermath of the war with the Martians, President Dale's teenage daughter Taffy awards the Congressional Medal of Honor to Richie and Florence. In Washington, D.C., Byron—who survived his encounter with the Martians—walks up to Louise's home to greet his family. In Tahoe, Barbara, Cindy, and Tom Jones emerge unharmed from a cavern.
Other significant actors to appear in the film include Willie Garson as Corporate Guy, John Roselius as GNN Boss, Michael Reilly Burke and Valerie Wildman as GNN Reporters, Rebecca Broussard as a Hooker, Steve Valentine as TV Director, Enrique Castillo as Hispanic Colonel, John Finnegan as Speaker of the House, Gregg Daniel as Lab Technician, and J. Kenneth Campbell as a Doctor. Ron Howard's father Rance Howard has a small part as a Texas Investor, while Simpsons writer Josh Weinstein portrays the Hippie who sets loose the dove. Voice actor Frank Welker provided the voices of the Martians.
In 1985, Alex Cox pitched the idea of a film based on the Mars Attacks trading card series as a joint-production to Orion and Tristar Pictures. He wrote three drafts over the next four years, but was replaced by Martin Amis before Orion and Tristar placed Mars Attacks.... Discover the Jack Mars popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Jack Mars books.