The Extra-Terrestrial Turns 30: In Celebration of E.T.

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A compassionate little boy named Elliott finds a stranded extraterrestrial and names him E.T. Elliott makes it his mission to get passed the authorities to help E.T. return to his home planet.
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
June 28th, 2012

The Extra-Terrestrial Turns 30: In Celebration of E.T.

-- With the 30th anniversary Blu-Ray release of Steven Spielberg's "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" on the horizon, there are a number of events and special items scheduled to celebrate the classic film. Released in 1982, the film about a boy and his alien quickly became a cultural smash, as it surpassed the original "Star Wars" as the highest grossing film up to that point. Its simple story was a hit with families on its release, and it still resonates with audiences to this day.

The timeless film sees young Elliot (Henry Thomas) and his single-mother family (including a young Drew Barrymore as Gerty) adopt an alien who was left behind on Earth. From its use of Reeses-Pieces as a tool to lure the alien to Elliot's house to the breathtaking scene of E.T. flying across the night sky on a bicycle, the film has become a film icon, standing as one of Spielberg's most beloved movies.

Right on cue for the film's 30th anniversary, Universal Pictures and Spielberg have planned a Blu-Ray release of the film for October 2012. This version of the film features a restored print, which eliminates many of the controversial changes, such as the infamous replacement of guns with walkie-talkies that occurred in the 2002 DVD release. A number of interviews featuring members of the cast and crew will also be included with the film. It will be released not only in Blu-Ray, but also DVD and digital download format.

A Blu-Ray release of this caliber would be enough for some films, but not something as loved as "E.T." A game titled "E.T.: The Green Planet" will also be released through the iTunes App store. Based on the novel, the game is a sequel to the original film, following the alien back to his home planet. Players follow E.T. through the lush plant life of his home, learning about a number of different gardens and the vast alien ecosystem.

In addition to these releases, some theaters are offering screenings for audiences who wish to see the film on the big screen again. The Los Angeles Film Festival recently held a screening at the Figat7th Outdoor Cinema for families and fans of the film. This successful screening not only allowed audiences to see a restored copy of "E.T.," but also featured a live re-creation of the famous bike scene featuring a group of children from the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition. All visitors to the screening received a red hoodie celebrating the anniversary of the movie.

As part of its "Summer of '82" film festival, the Alamo Drafthouse hosted a screening of "E.T." at its Austin location. The festival is a summer-long event featuring many of the famous genre films from 1982, such as "The Thing," "The Road Warrior," and "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." All films are shown in their original print, giving audiences a taste of what these films looked like on their original run. All screenings at the Alamo feature a number of food options created solely for the '80s-themed event. Slashfilm sponsored the showing of "E.T.," was held on June 8.

For the toy collectors out there, NECA has released a series of action figures featuring E.T. Fans of the film can choose between a normal E.T. or a dress-up version of the character, which allows you to put the alien in his Halloween costume. There is also a replica of E.T.'s hand featuring a light-up finger, mimicking the famous scene from the movie. A second series of figures and toys based on "E.T." is due for release in the fall.

Many articles are appearing online discussing the production of the film and information on its aborted sequel. Spielberg and screenwriter Melissa Mathieson wrote a nine-page treatment for a follow-up to "E.T." that saw evil aliens coming to Earth to find the young creature from the first film. While the idea never went to script, the original treatment has been released online for fans to look at. Several popular film sites have also offered a number of retrospectives on "E.T.," which include interviews with the cast and Spielberg.

When a film as well respected as "E.T." hits the 30-year mark, it's often greeted with quiet praise from critics, but "E.T." has gone beyond being a critical favorite to become a cultural institution. It's impressive that a film this old has received so much support from its creators and fans, allowing it to seep into the cultural conversation once again. Fans of the film will love these events, while those who have never seen the film are sure to fall in love with it too.