E.T.: Creating Movie Magic That’s Out Of This World

By | March 16, 2022

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Drew Barrymore on the set of "E.T.". (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

On June 11, 1982, E.T. stole viewers' hearts, becoming an immediate blockbuster and surpassing Star Wars as the highest-grossing film of all time (it held the record for 11 years until Jurassic Park in 1993). It received nine nominations at the 55th Academy Awards, winning four, as well as two Golden Globes and five Saturn Awards. After its screening at the United Nations on September 17, 1982, Spielberg received a UN Peace Medal. In 1994, it was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. 

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Source: (IMDb).

E.T. Arose In Part From Spielberg's Experiences

After Steven Spielberg found success with Jaws (1975) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), he wanted to create a more personal film. He proposed Growing Up, which was inspired by his experience after his parents divorced when he was 15 and featured the perspectives of three children. However, Columbia wanted a sequel to Close Encounters and although he didn’t want to work on the sequel, Spielberg contemplated the question of what would happen if an alien didn’t return to the mothership at the end of the film. Because he didn’t want Columbia to make the sequel without him, he commissioned John Sayles to create the script for Night Skies. In Night Skies, aliens terrorize a suburban family. He didn’t want to create a film as dark as this, so he had Columbia re-release Close Encounters with additional scenes. Spielberg then worked with screenwriter Melissa Mathison to combine the stories, which led to E.T. The terrorized family story eventually reemerged as Poltergeist