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Aliens in the attic
ALIENS IN THE ATTIC springs from the story by Mark Burton, who wanted to capture what he loves most about films for the entire family – high adventure, unexpected thrills, inventiveness and likable characters, both young and old. Burton, who also cowrote the screenplay, was at home with his wife and family in London, enjoying the company of a group of their grown-up friends downstairs while his kids and their friends' kids were having raucous fun upstairs. What if, Burton imagined, the kids were battling some alien invaders, while we adults remained oblivious to the goings-on upstairs?

For Burton, imagination is king and central to the adventure transpiring in the attic. But his inspiration was very much of the real world. "When my kids were younger we often used to have the neighbors around,” he recalls. "We'd sit in the kitchen whilst all the kids would disappear upstairs, get massively overexcited, and end up having some huge game running around throwing and firing things at each other. One day I just looked up at the shaking ceiling and thought: what if that was a real battle and we didn't know? That became the essence of ALIENS IN THE ATTIC: it's an alien invasion movie where the kids are in charge and the adults have to remain clueless.”

The kids' homemade alien-fighting "potato spud gun” is a principal tool in their homemade arsenal. They also make good use of existing technology – from another world – when they get their hands on the aliens' mind-control device. The ingenious contraption conceived by Burton is a high-tech arrowhead and plug that implants into the base of the victim's skull, molding into its host as energy courses through his or her body. The controller resembles a videogame console, complete with a joystick and an "AlienTooth” earpiece that works as a kind of universal translator (Zirkonian-English; English-Zirkonian). The mind-control machine allows the user – alien or human – to manipulate its victim like a puppet. The Pearson kids' ingenuity turns the alien machine into nothing less than the ultimate videogame.

Burton recalls the origins of the mind-control machine: "I needed a story device that would explain why the adults couldn't get involved and it literally became a device -- a mind-control device that the aliens could use to turn the adults against the kids. Because the mind control gadgets don't work on children, it makes the children Earth's last line of defense. But there was a lot of fun to be had with this device. What if your grandmother was turned into a gravity-defying martial arts warrior? What if the kids got hold of the gadget and used it to control their sister's lame boyfriend? As a plot device, it generated a lot of comedy.”

The ALIENS IN THE ATTIC screenplay, with further refinements from coscreenwriter Adam F. Goldberg, sparked the imagination of producer Barry Josephson, who had recently produced the hit comedy "Enchanted,” another story rich with imagination, humor and fun. "I really loved the tone of the script for ALIENS IN THE ATTIC,” notes Josephson, an industry veteran who as an executive oversaw the blockbuster "Men in Black,” among other films. As he had accomplished with "Enchanted,” Josephson's aim with ALIENS IN THE ATTIC was to produce a film the entire family would enjoy. "This is not just a movie for kids, because there are a lot of laughs, big action set pieces and original situations,” Josephson explains. "You don't always know where the story is going, or what the aliens are going to do next. And kids are always nothing less than surprising!”

To direct, Josephson and studios Twentieth Century Fox and Regency Enterprises turned to John Schultz, who had helmed the Josephson-produced comedy hit "Like Mike.” Their first meeting on ALIENS IN THE ATTIC was a harbinger of the freeflowing creativity that would mark the project thro


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