Not only was he in hot water, but Jonathan Gems ended up getting fired from the project because of the burning cows sequence. “Mars Attacks!” begins with a peasant couple talking about a smell in the air. It smells like barbecue, one of them notices. Then a torched herd of cattle rushes by. The perpetrator, a flying saucer from Mars, leaves the crime scene. Although this scene was straight from the trading cards, Warner executives protested. Despite multiple paraphrases, Gems wouldn’t let it go:
“I think it was the 11th draft, they said, ‘If the burning cows are in the next draft, you get fired.’ So I tried, but I couldn’t think of anything better, so I came up with the new script.” the burning cows. And they fired me.”
Fired or not, Tim Burton filmed the scene and opens the film as Gems intended. However, he was the only credited screenwriter of Mars Attacks!, leading to the assumption that the finished film was primarily his voice. Burton, on the other hand, still feels that “Mars Attacks!” was fun and happy to include as many pictures as possible from the trading cards. The director has also come to terms peacefully with the usual studio interventions. “It’s always funny when studios struggle to throw stuff out. That’s basically why you do it,” he noted.
Burton, it seems, was the mischievous Martian in this case. His finished film is an underrated piece of the director’s canon and definitely a must see if you’re in a destructive mood.
https://www.slashfilm.com/1237155/mars-attacks-was-originally-about-a-dinosaur-attack-but-the-lost-world-changed-that/ Mars Attacks was originally about a dinosaur attack (but The Lost World changed that)