Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram

Legendary Filmmaker Steven Spielberg Regrets a Change He Made to ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’

Photo Credit: Universal Studios / Glowworn / MovieStillsDB
Photo Credit: Universal Studios / Glowworn / MovieStillsDB

In 2002, for the 20th anniversary of the original release of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, a special edition of the film was released with minor changes. Steven Spielberg, who directed the film, said that he regrets making these changes, which were done to make the ’80s classic more attuned to today’s standards. Describing the art of filmmaking as “sacrosanct,” Spielberg says he’ll never make changes like that again.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

Elliot and E.T. are chased by federal agents in a still from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). (Photo Credit: Universal Studios / yodasimpson / MovieStills DB)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, popularly referred to as E.T., is a classic science fiction film released in 1982. It tells the story of a young boy named Elliott, who discovers a friendly alien who has become stranded on Earth. The alien, who is later named E.T., forms a strong bond with Elliott and his family and is determined to find a way to return home.

The film is set in suburban California and showcases the wonder and magic of childhood imagination. The special effects used to create the alien and his spaceship were groundbreaking at the time, and the iconic imagery, such as E.T. riding in a milk crate on Elliot’s bike’s handlebars in front of the moon, have become some of the most memorable moments in movie history.

The 2002 release and Spielberg’s big regret

US director Steven Spielberg arrives for the Time 100 Gala, posing for photographers
Steven Spielberg at the Time 100 Gala on April 26, 2023. (Photo Credit: Angela Weiss / AFP / Getty Images)

In the scene that is the basis for Spielberg’s regret, Elliot, E.T., and Elliot’s friends are chased by federal agents who have their guns drawn. In the original, Elliot’s mother is actually heard saying: “no guns, they’re only children.” Spielberg decided for the film’s 2002 edition that this scene had to be changed.

In the updated version, instead of guns, the agents carried harmless radios. In reference to this change, Spielberg said, “That was a mistake. I never should have done that. E.T. is a product of its era, and no film should be revised based on the lenses we now are either voluntarily or being forced to peer through.”

He continued, “I should never have messed with the archive of my own work, and I don’t recommend anybody do that. All our movies are kind of a measuring, sort of a signpost, of where we were when we made them, and what the world was like, what the world was receiving when we got those stories out there. So I really regret that.”

Going even further, Spielberg also said, “For me, [art] is sacrosanct. It’s something that is our history, it’s our cultural heritage. I do not believe in censorship that way.” With this in mind, the 30th-anniversary release of E.T. saw the restoration of the scene to how it was in 1982.

Spielberg’s long career

Steven Spielberg with a camera on the set of Jurassic Park.
Steven Spielberg on the set of Jurassic Park (1993). (Photo Credit: Universal Studios / Zayne / MovieStills DB)

Spielberg’s long film career began with the 1975 thriller Jaws, which became the highest-grossing film of all time at the time of its release. Throughout the ’80s, Spielberg continued to establish himself as one of the most prominent directors of his generation with hit films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, and of course, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

In the 1990s, Spielberg branched out into producing while continuing to direct, creating such acclaimed films as Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, and Saving Private Ryan. He continued into the 2000s with films like Catch Me If You Can, Munich, and War Horse. Later expanding his talents into television, he produced the award-winning miniseries Band of Brothers and The Pacific.

More from us: During the 1984 Olympics, McDonald’s Lost Millions of Dollars Due to a Failed Special Offer

Spielberg’s career has been marked by his ability to tell powerful and emotionally resonant stories that often address important social issues. He’s won numerous awards for his work, including three Academy Awards for Best Director and the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. He has also been honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

Ryan McLachlan

Ryan McLachlan is a historian and content writer for Hive Media. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History and Classical Studies and his Master of Arts in History from the University of Western Ontario. Ryan’s research focused on military history, and he is particularly interested in the conflicts fought by the United Kingdom from the Napoleonic Wars to the Falklands War.

Ryan’s other historical interests include naval and maritime history, the history of aviation, the British Empire, and the British Monarchy. He is also interested in the lives of Sir Winston Churchill and Admiral Lord Nelson. Ryan enjoys teaching, reading, writing, and sharing history with anyone who will listen.

In his spare time, he enjoys watching period dramas such as Murdoch Mysteries and Ripper Street and also enjoys reading classical literature and Shakespeare. He also plays football and is an afternoon tea connoisseur.