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Tim Burton was shaken, for real, at Las Vegas Landmark implosion

The Landmark scene in “Mars Attacks!” made the earth move under Tim Burton’s feet.

“When it happened the dust settled, and everything was just silent,” Burton said Monday morning during a news conference at Neon Museum’s Ne10 studio warehouse on West Bonanza Road. “It was just powerful, like watching an ancient species of animal dying or something. Everything just went silent.”

Burton captured the famous footage to use in the destruction scene in the 1996 cult classic. Named Galaxy Hotel for the film, the Landmark conveniently toppled dramatically, splitting into two sections before crashing in the dust plume Burton mentions. For the movie, alien spaceships did the dirty work.

“There was a deep sadness, and a deep kind of strange feeling,” Burton said of watching the destruction of the hotel on Paradise Road, across from the Las Vegas Convention Center. “That’s why it was so powerful, because of that deep feeling.”

A lifelong visitor to Las Vegas as he grew up in Burbank, Calif., Burton is at once a fan and preservationist of the city. His “Lost Vegas: Tim Burton @ The Neon Museum” opens to the public Tuesday and runs through Feb. 15. The museum’s collection of decommissioned signs was featured in “Mars Attacks!,” in which aliens laid waste to many of the city’s landmarks (upper and lowercase).

A total of 15 brand-new works among more than two dozen are on display at the Boneyard, including the signature work, a “Lost Vegas” neon sign standing 40 feet tall.

After Burton’s news conference, I asked if Burton would be interested in developing a stage show or any other entertainment vehicle based on his work.

“I’ve been coming here for many years and I’ve seen shows, and I’ve actually thought about it in the past, but nothing has ever come to life,” he said. “This is the first time anything like this has happened. It’s such an artistic city in a weird way, there are lots of possibilities.”


John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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