Starlog Archives: Tim Burton Explains Mars Attacks
In the late eighties, Tim Burton became one of the hottest directors in Hollywood. The former Disney animator brought a unique visual style to his movies which included hits like Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice and Batman. Burton rode that momentum into the 90’s with his most personal movie to date, Edward Scissorhands and a dark Batman sequel. In 1994, Ed Wood was praised by critics but flopped at the box office. By 1996, Burton’s career path was staring to look murky.
Just in time for the holiday season, Burton directed a B-movie based on kitschy trading cards from his youth. The cards depicted scenes of malevolent aliens conquering the earth. There was very little narrative to adapt, just bizarre and often gruesome imagery. To make the movie more commercial, Burton packed his cast with familiar faces including Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Glenn Close, Danny DeVito, Michael J. Fox and Jack Nicholson.
The gamble did not pay off. Mars Attacks! was a box office flop. Afterwards, Burton took a three year hiatus before directing his next movie. In this cover story from the January 1997 issue of Starlog, Burton talks about his new B-movie.