The iconic American filmmaker Steven Spielberg has always had a fondness for cosmic fantasy and extraterrestrial adventures, delving into such worlds with films like War of the Worlds, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. It all comes from a very real-life paranoia of his too, with the filmmaker superstitious of life way beyond our solar system and understanding.
The filmmaker explains this stance in a rare interview from 1977, conducted the very same year as Close Encounters Of The Third Kind was released. Telling the interviewer why he believes in all the UFO sightings and close encounters, the filmmaker explains: “There have been enough sober reports from very reliable, multiple witnesses, individuals who have all seen these things all over the world not just in this country but all through Canada all through France all through Brazil, Australia you name it”.
Using much of his research into the subject for the sci-fi Close Encounters, the film became a considerable critical and commercial hit, taking $306 million from a production that only cost $19 million to put together.
Though, despite the overwhelming success of the movie, the director still felt the need to meddle with the 1977 movie, changing one particular aspect in the 1980 special edition that he since regrets making.
The special edition of Close Encounters added brand new footage to the film’s ending showing the inside of the mothership that the protagonist Roy (Richard Dreyfuss) enters into at the climax. Added under pressure from Columbia Pictures who wanted a new version of the film to sell the VHS and LaserDisc versions of the movie, Spielberg later admitted that he regretted ever following their request.
“I compromised and showed Richard Dreyfuss walking inside the mothership,” the director recalled in a behind the scenes interview about the making of the movie, adding, “Which I never should have done because that should always have been kept a mystery”. Tacked onto the end of the movie, the scene in question certainly does take away from the dramatic majesty of the film’s original conclusion.
For this very reason, Spielberg prefers the final cut of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a version that combines elements from several different cuts of the movie and removes the final mothership interior scene entirely.
Starring Dreyfuss alongside such stars as François Truffaut, Melinda Dillon, Teri Garr, Bob Balaban and Rob Blossom, Close Encounters is one of the filmmaker’s most memorable cosmic outings, behind the release of the 1982 film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.