Gems eventually returned to the project, writing a total of 12 drafts of the script (well over 90% of the finished shooting script). Although he is credited with both the screen story and screenplay of Mars Attacks!, Gems dedicates his novelization of the movie to Burton, who "co-wrote the screenplay and didn't ask for a credit". Warner Bros. was dubious of the Martian dialogue and wanted Burton to add closed captioning subtitles, but he resisted. Working with Burton, Gems pared the film's 60 leading characters down to 23 and the worldwide destruction planned for the film was isolated to three major cities. Scenes featuring Martians attacking China, the Philippines, Japan, Europe, Africa, India and Russia were deleted from the screenplay, leaving only Paris and the Taj Mahal. "Bear in mind this was way before Independence Day (1996) was written," Gems commented. "We had things like Manhattan being destroyed building by building, the White House went and so did the Empire State Building. Warner Bros. figured all this would be too expensive, so we cut most of that out to reduce the cost." Further discussing the differences between Mars Attacks! and Independence Day, Gems stated, "Independence Day is more like a movie called Fail-Safe and Mars Attacks is like Dr. Strangelove", in that both films had a similar story, but with different tones. Howard Stern claimed that the film's climax, where an attack by Martians was thwarted by playing Slim Whitman songs to them, was originally created by him when he worked at WNBC in 1982, in a sketch named "Slim Whitman vs. The Midget Aliens From Mars."
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