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(Credit: Universal Pictures)

Film

Exploring the 'E.T.' sequel that was never made by Steven Spielberg

E.T. was nothing short of a cultural phenomenon when it first came out, establishing Steven Spielberg as one of the most prominent directors in the history of Hollywood. Producing yet another success after Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spielberg figured out how to capture the public imagination and managed to replicate it throughout his carer.

Initially planned as a follow-up to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the project was first conceptualised as Night Skies which was a much darker version where evil aliens antagonised a human family. However, it evolved into the film we are familiar with today – a moving story about an extraterrestrial entity who is left behind on our planet.

It was a huge commercial success and even crossed Star Wars to take the spot as the highest-grossing film of all time until it was eventually displaced by Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. When the film had its first theatrical run, there were some plans about a sequel as well which would take a different turn and adhere to the darker themes of Night Skies.

Titled E.T. II: Nocturnal Fears, it would have followed the harrowing journey of Elliott (the ten-year-old boy who becomes E.T.’s friend) after he is kidnapped by evil aliens along with his friends. Spielberg and screenwriter Melissa Mathison had prepared a small treatment for this idea which had a much more brutal vision.

The aliens in the sequel wouldn’t be as cute as E.T. and would have completely different plans. According to the initial treatment, these extraterrestrial entities are the enemies of E.T.’s planet and are horrifying carnivores who have arrived on Earth to engage in cattle mutilation and the torture of children in order to gather information about their opponents.

In an interview, Spielberg reflected: “While I’ve thought about it, I still feel that all an E.T. sequel could do is disappoint people. Nothing will be as innocent. A sequel would be a business decision, and I am not prepared to make such a decision, using E.T. as the trump card. … I have personal feelings about this. I’ve gotten a lot of things from him in my life, beyond the commercial success.”

Deciding that this would take away from the original film, Spielberg chose not to pursue the sequel and shelved the project. Ironically, there was a short film that was made as a sequel to E.T. and it was titled A Holiday Reunion. The commercial imagined E.T. returning to the planet after many years just when the holiday season comes around.

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