E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a 1982 American science fiction fantasy film co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by Melissa Mathison. It features special effects by Carlo Rambaldi and Dennis Muren, and stars Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote and Pat Welsh. It tells the story of Elliott (Thomas), a lonely boy who befriends an extraterrestrial, dubbed “E.T.”, who is stranded on Earth. Elliott and his siblings help E.T. return home while attempting to keep him hidden from their mother and the government.
The concept was based on an imaginary friend Spielberg created after his parents’ divorce in 1960. In 1980, Spielberg met Mathison and developed a new story from the stalled sci-fi horror film project Night Skies. It was filmed from September to December 1981 in California on a budget of US$10.5 million. Unlike most films, it was shot in rough chronological order, to facilitate convincing emotional performances from the young cast.
Released on June 11, 1982 by Universal Pictures, E.T. was an immediate blockbuster, surpassing Star Wars to become the highest-grossing film of all time—a record it held for eleven years until Jurassic Park, another Spielberg-directed film, surpassed it in 1993. It is the highest-grossing film of the 1980s. Considered one of the greatest films ever made, it was widely acclaimed by critics as a timeless story of friendship, and it ranks as the greatest science fiction film ever made in a Rotten Tomatoes survey. In 1994, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. It was re-released in 1985, and then again in 2002 to celebrate its 20th anniversary, with altered shots and additional scenes.
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