Is the E.T. Revival Tanking?

This weekend some friends were visiting, and we were checking the movie listings for something to see (we ended up watching Trading Spaces on TLC instead, but that’s another story.) I noticed that E.T. was playing, the new and improved revival version. And I was a little surprised.

I don’t know why. A consummate geek, I knew it was being re-released. I knew about the debate over Spielberg, channeling the spirit of George Lucas, going back and ‘improving’ the original movie with all kinds of CGI tricks. I knew there were toys currently warming the pegs at my local TRU. I knew it was out in the theater, even. And yet, I hadn’t heard anything about anyone actually SEEING it. No one I know went to see it, and we’re the E.T. generation. No one I know with young kids said anything about taking them to see it.

I saw ET when I was younger, and it was okay. But honestly, I never really thought about it. For a movie that blew away the box office when it came out, and as much as I am and know geeks, no one I knew ever talked about it that much. I had always suspected that ET’s popularity was kind of a hoax, but the box office numbers seemed to speak otherwise. He was on magazine covers and there were plenty of references to him at the time, but there were similar references to Arnold from diff’rent Strokes. Was ET just a fad?

I checked the box office at and it seemed to do marginally well its first week, but it’s not doing so hot at the moment, and this has been a pretty slow time for movies - there’s not much out there competing with it. At least that seems like it to me.

We can only hope…

The ET re-release is not doing nearly as well as Universal wanted, and it is pretty easy to see why: They released a summer movie with the kids having 2 months of school left. :rolleyes:

The ad campaign was also non-existent. Like you said, I knew about the toys, the fast food tie-ins, etc. but I saw no trailers for the movie itself.

I was a huge ET fan back in '82, but you know? I haven’t seen the re-release either and I don’t think I will.

I think Spielberg needs to get over himself. He’s made a couple of good movies (Schindler’s List comes to mind), but nothing important enough for a 20 year re-release. All he normally does is make touchy-feely PC crap.

Star Wars, whether you like Lucas or not, is an icon of 20th century culture. I understood why he did it, and I was excited for the re-release.
E.T. vas just zis movie. And to be honest, it wasn’t even an especially good movie. Much less with the PC Bullshit editing. FBI carrying walkie talkies instead of guns? Sure. So when they encounter a dangerous alien they can, what? Describe the experience of being slaughtered by an alien? give me a break.

I saw ET once. Once. That was enough for me. (The best seat at the Pacific Cinerama Dome.) After Jaws and CE3K I found it disappointing. So-so. Just okay.

If I had any miniscule intention of seeing it again, it was destroyed when I heard that Spielberg digitally removed the guns from the hands of the government guys and replaced them with walkie-talkies. Why? If he had wanted them to have radios, he should have given them radios 20 years ago. To me it just smacks of over-PC-ness. Besides, do you really think a kid’s going to notice; or if he does, whether he’ll care?

I thought ET was overly-sweet in '82, and I think altering it is disingenuous. I hope it tanks.

Depends on your definition of “tanking,” I guess.

Has the re-release been an utter flop? No. It’s been profitable. But if they were hoping that the second release of “E.T.” would rake in hundreds of millions of dollars, as the second release of the “Star Wars” series did, then they’ve failed miserably.

Success and failure are all relative, in Hollywood.

The E.T. re-release has probably made more money than most re-released features ever hope to. But as already mentioned, it’s done nowhere near as well as the STAR WARS trilogy did five years ago – which is probably the kind of numbers that Universal was hopiing for.

The reason why is anyone’s guess. Certianly, I don’t think the ad campaign was to blame. For weeks or even months before the film came out, the posters were up in theatres. Also, I doubt the timing was the problem. STAR WARS IV: A NEW HOPE was re-released in January (not traditionally a strong movie-going month), yet it made $100-million in 1997. Had E.T. come out this summer instead of March, it probably would have done even worse than it is doing now, and then someone would blame the poor performance competition from new summer films.

Perhaps E.T. is just one of those “classics” that doesn’t live up to its over-hyped reputation? Maybe kids today would rather see something like SHREK or MONSTER, INC, instead of an overly cute kiddie movie about an ugly alien too stupid to avoid wandering off and nearly dying in a ditch.

steve biodrowski

I saw ET once and…I’ve forgotten all about it. I didn’t hear much about the ET re-release and from what I did hear, I just shrugged.

I saw E.T. when it was released the first time. I guess I was 8 or 9. I thought it was okay, but even as a kid I felt insulted by its gimmicky touchy-feely-ness and hokey plot.

Now that I’ve hit my 30s, I don’t see me changing that opinion, particularly since SS has allegedly made it even cheesier. Once was enough for me. I punched the popular culture ticket by being able to honestly say I’ve seen it. I don’t think I’ll be going in for bonus miles on that one.

LMAO! And I agree.

A lot of animosity over what is, after all, a movie for kids. Y’all feeling ok?

Hee hee hee…I’m getting this mental image of Spielberg in 1982 with his hat pulled down over his ears and a phoney moustache, going up to ticket counters across the nation and saying “One please…for E.T.!!!” just to push up the box office numbers…

Well, i know that amonst me and all of my friends, we normally would have wanted to see E.T., BUT he went and changed it. He PCed it. As such, we boycotted it. Much like no one I know will watch the re-done Star Wars where Greedo shoots first.

Changing a classic just so it seems less offensive to some overly sensitive people is just bad IMHO. What next, put some pants on Michaelangelo’s David?

I didn’t know about the digital changes planned in the re-release, which might have planted enough disgust by itself to keep me away. But I had no plans to go, or take my children. I liked it when it came out – so why does it fail to move me now in the prime nostalgia period of my life? I have some theories.

First, I vividly recall the release. I was in high school and prime fodder for the sweet sentimentality of a cuddly alien (I was a real Girl back then!). So I saw it and loved it, probably for many of the same reasons so many others did, and it made such big box office: it was a fresh look at an old genre. This alien didn’t want to kill us. It didn’t demand to be taken to our leader. It didn’t want to devour us, use us for fuel, turn us into pod-people. It was a look at life beyond our world as possibly benign, potentially good, maybe worth our friendship. (There may have been other films that presented this point of view; I can’t think of another at the moment … but I’m postulating this this was one of – if not the – first big popular movie that gave us a nice alien. Hmmm I just thought of Close Encounters. But that wasn’t a very up-close and personal with the aliens kind of movie.)

My second theory has to do with seeing some trailers on Nickelodian. The scene is ET in the closet, and the big brother is trying to tell Drew Barrymore that she ought to be afraid of it (or something like that). Cutie Drew turns, gives him a look and wisecracks, “give me a break!” If I’m recalling the early 1980s correctly, the Smartass Kid had yet to be invented, or was still in his infancy. They didn’t populate every sitcom like they do now. Back then it was a surprise to hear adult-sounding statements from kids. Now it’s boring.

It also seems like the Reece’s Pieces gimmick was something totally new, too. As I said I was still pretty young, and I might have been just then noticing the phenomena – but it seems to me that product placement had yet to be introduced into the movies. For me, anyway, the appearance of some actual candy that I could actually recognize and buy gave it a zing of authenticity, which I’d never seen before in the many movies featuring characters drinking Yum-E Soda from cans.

So to sum up, I say ET was somewhat groundbreaking back then, which accounted for its popularity. Now the few things it pioneered weren’t astonishing enough to make us nostalgic for such a novelty – and it wasn’t a good enough movie to send people back for the story alone.

Just how it was able to spawn a pop song by Neil Diamond, however, I am unable to fathom. :wink:

Well, I don’t feel any particular animosity toward the film. I just never thought it was very good. If other people enjoy it, that’s fine.

Of course, having said that, I do admit to a certain thrill that the re-release is not doing as well as hoped. I like to think it suggests that a whole new generation of young film-goers has refused to be lulled watching an over-rated pseudo-classic just because parents and critics tell them it’s great and they should see it.

Here’s hoping something similar happens twenty years from now for the HARRY POTTER re-release.

steve biodrowski

The original release left me feeling cheated, as even as a kid, I thought it stank. The re-release has had me cringing, and the ad campaign around here has been anything but weak… Trailers in the theaters, newsprint ads, and TV ads.

I just hope it goes away quickly.

There are a lot of books, movies, etc. that are popular at a particular time, and five or ten years later, it’s nearly impossible to figure out why - what was in the moment, back then, that made it work for people.

I enjoyed seeing E.T. while I was watching it, the once I saw it, but the aftertaste quickly turned saccharine. I had no interest in seeing the revival.

The other day, I noticed the DVD of Close Encounters of the Third Kind on the library shelf, so I checked it out. It was still enjoyable, after all these years. This year is the 25th anniversary of its release. Why they didn’t choose Close Encounters rather than E.T. for the anniversary re-release bit, I have no clue.

Like many, I saw it back when, liked it enough, have no desire to see it again.

But on the toy front: I was working PT at the local TRU back then and the one thing I remember was how badly the E.T. toys tanked. They spent a small nation’s GNP on merchandising but recouped not a lot. I doubt they will do much better this time out.

Not to hijack my own thread, but that’s not unusual. Happens every year.

I collect Star Wars action figures. It’s no secret that this particular line has done well (and would do better if Hasbro didn’t have insane monkeys making decisions). But as far as movie-related toys go, it’s the only line that’s done well. Every year the toy stores are flooded with toys for that summer’s movies, and every year they can’t give them away come October.

We hear the same excuses over and over. “This wasn’t a kid’s movie.” “Box office wasn’t good.” “Price point wasn’t there.” Etc. It happens every year to every line and still the soldier on.

Shrek toys should have nailed the coffin shut on this. You had a movie that kids and adults both went to see in droves, it made tons of money, won an award it didn’t deserve, and the toys were there in full force at a not-unreasonable price. And they still sit on shelves, untouched. The dragon was the only one that sold.

Now, I could tell you many reasons for this, the foremost being - sure, kids liked Shrek, but it this really a universe you want to play in? What would a kid DO with a donkey toy? How do you play with it?

Still, they must be making SOME money off these festering toys, because despite them heading straight to deep clearance year after year, they continue to grind them out.

To bring back to the OP, they released all kinds of new toys for the ET revival, and they’re all sitting on the shelves collecting dust.

They don’t need to make money from toys-- they just need to lose enough to get a tax write-off :wink:

I figure the reason ET isn’t doing so well is twofold. First, it’s April. Kids don’t go to the films in April. Second, they changed it.


The film might be marginally more successful if they didn’t screw with it. Lots of people saw the supposed improvements made in Star Wars, and they were less than impressed.
That, and you only had to watch the other ET-- Entertainment Tonight-- to see exactly what all the changes were. ET now looks like a dopey cartoon, whereas before he looked more authentically alien.