Mars Needs Moms

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Mars Needs Moms
Mars Needs Moms! Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Simon Wells
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Simon Wells
  • Wendy Wells
Based on Mars Needs Moms! 
by Berkeley Breathed
Music by John Powell
Cinematography Robert Presley
Edited by Wayne Wahrman
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release dates
  • March 11, 2011 (2011-03-11)
Running time
88 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $150 million[1][2]
Box office $39 million[1]

Mars Needs Moms is a 2011 American 3D motion capture computer-animated science fiction adventure comedy film based on the Berkeley Breathed book of the same title. The film is centered on Milo, a nine-year-old boy who finally comes to understand the importance of family, and has to rescue his mother after she is abducted by Martians. It was co-written and directed by Simon Wells. It was released to theaters on March 11, 2011 by Walt Disney Pictures.[3] The film stars both Seth Green (motion capture) and newcomer Seth Dusky (voice) as Milo. This was the last film by ImageMovers Digital before it was absorbed back into ImageMovers.[4] The film is the fourth biggest box office bomb in history adjusted for inflation (and second biggest unadjusted), grossing less than $39 million on a budget of $150 million.


Nine-year-old Milo (Seth Green, voice-over by Seth Dusky) is just beginning summer vacation, and his father (Tom Everett Scott) is leaving for a business trip. While Milo is wanting his summer to be a fun one, his mother (Joan Cusack) assigns him chores and tasks like taking out the trash. At dinnertime, Milo is given broccoli. His mother has a "no broccoli, no TV" rule which Milo cleverly evades. When Milo feeds his broccoli to his cat, his mom grounds him and sends him to bed early. After a heated argument with his mother, Milo wishes that he never had a mom. Later that night, his wish comes true when his mother is abducted by Martians who plan to steal her "momness" to rear their own young.

Milo's quest to save his mom involves stowing away on the Martians' spaceship, navigating an elaborate, multi-level planet and taking on the alien nation and their leader, the Supervisor (Mindy Sterling). With the help of tech-savvy subterranean-dwelling earthling Gribble (Dan Fogler), his bionic underground pet Two-Cat (Dee Bradley Baker), and rebellious Martian Ki (Elisabeth Harnois), Milo finds his way back to his mom.

The Martians are born from the ground every five years. By an automated process, robots separate the males from the females. The males are cast into the garbage dump (where they live a primitive existence). Each female is placed in the care of a nanny robot. Each batch of nannies requires an earthling mother to provide their maternal programming. The process which will download each mother's memories results in her death.

The females are raised by the robot nannies to join a highly regimented matriarchal society; highly technological and free of physical affection. The Supervisor constructed this society to be freed from the burdens of child rearing.

At the beginning of the film, Martians observe Earth mothers, passing up those who are too indulgent or unable to control their children. They select Milo's mother based on her ability to command Milo to take out the trash.



Simon Wells had known Zemeckis since the mid-1980s when he was supervising animator and storyboard artist for Who Framed Roger Rabbit. He also worked on Back to the Future Part II and III and later worked on The Polar Express, which was why he was attracted into making Mars Needs Moms.[6] The production designer was Doug Chiang, and the supervising art director was Norm Newberry.[7] The title of the film is a twist on the title of American International Pictures' 1966 film Mars Needs Women. After spending six weeks outfitted in a special sensor-equipped performance-capture suit while simultaneously performing Milo's lines, Seth Green's voice sounded too mature for the character and was dubbed over by that of 11-year-old actor Seth R. Dusky.[5] The makers came up with their own alien language.[8] Elisabeth Harnois stated in an interview that she and the cast were given scenarios by Wells to which they acted out responses in improvised Martian language.[9]


Critical response[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes reported that 37% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on reviews from 111 critics, with an average rating of 5 out of 10. The critical consensus reads "The cast is solid and it's visually well-crafted, but Mars Needs Moms suffers from a lack of imagination and heart."[10] Metacritic assigned an average critical score of 49 out of 100 based on 22 reviews.[11]

Box office[edit]

Mars Needs Moms was a failure and has the worst box-office reception for a Disney-branded film. It earned only $1,725,000 on its first day, for a weekend total of $6,825,000.[12][13] This is the 15th worst opening ever for a film playing in 3,000+ theaters.[14] Even adjusted for inflation, considering the total net loss of money (not the profit to loss ratio), it was still the fifth largest box office bomb in history.[15][16] In 2014, the LA Times listed the film as one of the most expensive box office flops of all time.[17] On March 14, 2011, Brooks Barnes of The New York Times commented that it was rare for a Disney-branded film to do so badly, with the reason for its poor performance being the subject (a mother kidnapped from her child), the style of animation, which fails to cross the uncanny valley threshold, and negative word of mouth on social networks, along with releasing it on the same week as Battle: Los Angeles which had more hype with the general movie goers. Barnes concluded, "Critics and audiences alike, with audiences voicing their opinions on Twitter, blogs and other social media, complained that the Zemeckis technique can result in character facial expressions that look unnatural. Another common criticism was that Mr. Zemeckis focuses so much on technological wizardry that he neglects storytelling."[18]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, and movie download on August 9, 2011.[19][20][21] The release is produced in three different physical packages: a 4-disc combo pack (Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, and "Digital Copy"); a 2-disc Blu-ray combo pack (Blu-ray and DVD); and a 1-disc DVD.[20][21][22] The "Digital Copy" included with the 4-disc combo pack is a separate disc that allows users to download a copy of the film onto a computer through iTunes or Windows Media Player software.[20][21] The film is also a movie download or On-Demand option. All versions of the release (except for the On-Demand option) include the "Fun With Seth" and "Martian 101" bonus features, while the Blu-ray 2D version will additionally include deleted scenes, the "Life On Mars: The Full Motion-Capture Experience" feature, and an extended opening film clip.[20][21] The Blu-ray 3D version also has an alternate scene called "Mom-Napping", a finished 3D alternate scene of the Martian abduction of Milo's Mom.[20][21][23]


Mars Needs Moms
Soundtrack album by John Powell
Released March 3, 2011
Recorded January 7, 2011
Genre Film soundtrack, film score
Length 1:26
Label Walt Disney Records
Producer John Powell
John Powell chronology
Knight and Day
Mars Needs Moms

The film's score was composed by John Powell. The soundtrack was released by Walt Disney Records on March 3, 2011.

  • "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" – Queen
  • "Mars Observers"
  • "Abduction and Trashworld"
  • "Enjoy the Ride"
  • "Mars Needs Moms"
  • "Gribble's Plan"
  • "Milo Escapes"
  • "Gribble's Loss"
  • "Firing Squad"
  • "To the Surface"
  • "The Sacrifice"
  • "Transformation"
  • "Family Reunion"
  • "Mars Needs Moms" (credits suite)
  • "Martian Mambo"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Mars Needs Moms (2011)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 9, 2012. 
  2. ^ Kaufman, Amy (March 10, 2011). "Movie Projector: 'Battle: Los Angeles' will rule, 'Mars Needs Moms' will bomb". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 13, 2011. 
  3. ^ Stewart, Andrew (March 9, 2010). "Disney sets date for 'Mars'". Variety. Retrieved March 10, 2010. 
  4. ^ Finke, Nikki (March 12, 2010). "Disney Closing Zemeckis' Digital Studio". Retrieved November 21, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Kaufman, Amy (March 8, 2011). "Seth Green moves, but doesn't speak, in 'Mars Needs Moms'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 23, 2012. 
  6. ^ Webb, Charles (August 9, 2011). "Interview: MARS NEEDS MOMS Director/Writer Simon Wells". Twitch Film. Retrieved February 25, 2012. 
  7. ^ Loewenstein, Lael (March 8, 2011). "Review: ‘Mars Needs Moms’". Variety. Retrieved September 25, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Mars Needs Moms - Productions Notes". Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Mars Needs Moms Interview - Elisabeth Harnois". Trailer Addict. Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Mars Needs Moms". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 1, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Mars Needs Moms Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved November 9, 2012. 
  12. ^ Young, John (March 13, 2011). "Box office report: 'Battle: Los Angeles' conquers all with $36 mil". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  13. ^ Lumenick, Lou (March 14, 2011). "Box Office: 'Mars Needs Moms' a megaton bomb". New York Post. 
  14. ^ "Worst Openings at the Box Office for 3,000+ Theatres". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 9, 2012. 
  15. ^ Ben Riley-Smith (March 21, 2011). "'Mars Needs Moms': does flop mean 3D is history?". Retrieved July 31, 2011. 
  16. ^ McClintock, Pamela (March 14, 2011). "Why Disney's 'Mars Needs Moms' Bombed". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  17. ^ Eller, Claudia (January 15, 2014). "The costliest box office flops of all time". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 6, 2014. 
  18. ^ Barnes, Brooks (March 14, 2011). "Many Culprits in Fall of a Family Film". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Mars Needs Moms Blu-ray 3D Release Date and Pre-Orders". The HD Room. May 6, 2011. Retrieved May 6, 2011. 
  20. ^ a b c d e Gallagher, Brian (May 6, 2011). "Mars Needs Moms 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD Arrive August 9th". MovieWeb. Retrieved May 8, 2011. 
  21. ^ a b c d e "Mars Needs Moms 2D and 3D Blu-rays". May 6, 2011. Retrieved May 8, 2011. 
  22. ^ DuHamel, Brandon (May 7, 2011). "Mars Needs Moms Travels to Blu-ray, 3D and DVD in August". Blu-ray Definition. Retrieved May 8, 2011. 
  23. ^ "'Mars Needs Moms' Lands on Disney 3D Blu-ray/DVD on August 9; Includes 3D Exclusive Bonus Scene". Stitch Kingdom. May 6, 2011. Retrieved May 8, 2011. 

External links[edit]