Mars Attacks was a Tim Burton masterpice that was way ahead of its time.
When Tim Burton's 'Mars Attacks!' released in 1996, little did we know that the movie would leave such a lasting impact on fans. Burton surely had an incredible filmography before that -- be it Beetlejuice, Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands, Batman, Batman Returns, and The Nightmare Before Christmas (Yes, although he didn't direct, it's all Burton!). So a lot was expected of Mars Attacks! when it hit the cinemas, considering it featured a stellar cast -- Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J Fox, Annette Bening, and Natalie Portman. The official synopsis of the movie reads, "An army of aliens from Mars visit Earth and meet the president of the United States under peaceful pretenses. However, they reveal their true intentions when they start attacking cities."
However, things did not go according to plan. Based on a popular series of trading cards, the movie was made on a budget of $70 million. But, Mars Attacks! grossed just around $101 million and was considered a box-office failure. So what went wrong? According to Collider, the movie had a chaotic and nihilistic sense of humor, that was hardly seen or appreciated in a major studio blockbuster in the mid-90s. In fact, some say that the movie was way ahead of its time. It takes on every mainstream blockbuster trope and rubs it on the audiences' face along the way.
Mars Attack! Is the best film I have ever seen, Tim Burton is pure genius.— Amy Beckwith (@AmyBeckwith) March 16, 2013
Another major reason for its box office debacle was that it released just a few months after Independence Day. While most sci-fi fans loved Independence Day and expected something similar in Mars Attacks!, they were left utterly disappointed. To completely enjoy this classic, one needs to take it with a huge pinch of salt and not expect something like Close Encounters Of The Third Kind or Independence Day, according to Den Of Greek. While the movie was originally considered as a B-movie for the new generation, it was released on a grand scale, thus this led to many believing it was a failure.
“The Martians are symbols for different ideas and mainly the idea that things aren’t necessarily what they seem and that some things, maybe, are, but we can’t figure them out. I think it is always overly pretentious and worthless to try to pretend to understand and know everything and this movie is a little bit of an allegory of that concept. The question is not whether the Martians are good or bad and what are their motivations," Burton was quoted as saying in an old interview.
"The question becomes what kind of human beings are we under such pressure? Are we willing to sell out our friends and family? Are we cowards for trying to avoid the fight? What are we? I believe that it is in such times of high pressure and stress that you get to the heart of your soul and you face your demons. Sometimes the enemy isn’t the aliens or your neighbours or your family. Sometimes we are our own enemy.”
After many years, people are now realizing Mars Attacks! was truly a classic in the making and as we said, it's a Tim Burton masterpiece which is not for everyone.