Casting Elliott in ET

I really love what The Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences has been doing lately with their Academy Originals series of videos which take a look at the art and stories behind the making of the movies we love. The latest video features Casting director Marci Liroff (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Mean Girls) recounting the story of how Henry Thomas was cast as the lead in Steven Spielberg‘s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

As it turns out, Thomas was not the first choice for the role of Elliot. Liroff describes how a game of Dungeons & Dragons at screenwriter Melissa Mathison (who is finally returning to screenwriting for Spielberg’s adaptation of The BFG) changed the corse of a cinema classic, leading to the audition video I’m sure you’ve seen before. Hit the jump to watch the video now.

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Early ET concept art

We know the history of Steven Spielberg‘s film E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, and we even know some of the fine details. For example, we’ve seen the early alien designs created by Rick Baker for the aborted project Night Skies. It’s obvious that some of those designs made their way to the stream of concepts that influenced ET when that film was born in the wake of Night Skies being scrapped.

Now we’ve got some rarely seen early ET concept art from Ed Verreaux, who worked with Spielberg as production illustrator starting on Raiders of the Lost Ark. The art by Verreaux shows more of the process of Night Skies alien designs being mutated into the friendly guy we know and love at the center of ET. Read More »

Steven Spielberg arcades in movies

An Arcades in Movies supercut has been posted online chronicling arcade games in cinema from the year 1975 to 1994. And to add something extra, I’ve included a gallery of photos of a young Steven Spielberg and his arcade collection from the 1980′s as well as details on a forward the young filmmaker wrote in a book on arcade video games. Check out the Steven Spielberg arcade game collection photos and more, after the jump.

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Gremlins poster easter egg

The poster for Joe Dante‘s Gremlins is classic. I use to even have a gigantic french version of the one-sheet on my wall in my old /Film office. Despite that, I never noticed this fun little easter egg on the poster painted by legendary poster artist John Alvin. /Film reader Paul Bullock alerted me to this hidden tribute to producer Steven Spielberg. Can you see it? Uncover the Gremlins poster easter egg now, after the jump.

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/Film reader Paul Bullock discovered an awesome television profile on 34-year-old director Steven Spielberg which was aired on Japanese television in the Christmas of 1982, and has been virtually unseen by American audiences. If you’re even half the Spielberg-fanatic that I am, you’ll need to watch the entirety of the special. The special features a tour through Steven’s early Amblin’s offices and his Los Angeles home, behind the scenes footage of Spielberg directing his segment from Twilight Zone: The Movie. We get to see interview clips featuring Spielberg’s mother Leah Adler, Melissa Matheson (screenwriter of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial) and his young secretary just turned producer Kathleen Kennedy (now the head of LucasFilm), Spielberg’s thoughts on 1980′s television (Cheers, St Elsewhere, Hill St Blues…etc), his then attestant Kathleen Switzer (later a producer on movies like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Apollo 18), and many others. We get to drive with Spielberg to the studio lot with his dog on his lap, Robert Zemeckis talking with his two mentors John Milius and Spielberg while they eat eel and pumpkin pie together. We get to spend some time with Spielberg sitting at the piano with John Williams talking about their music collaborations. Interspliced with clips from his early films and even some behind the scenes b-roll footage. The special also features all the vintage commercial breaks, filled with fun Japanese commercials. Watch this now, or bookmark this link to watch later.

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As photo (or video) ops go, this one is among the best: video footage of Steven Spielberg and John Williams tapping out an early draft of the main E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial theme on a piano. Whether the camera just happened to be there, or if this was designed specifically as a publicity stunt matters to some extent — it would be nice to know this was really a spontaneous moment — but either way it’s neat to see the birth of one of the more recognizable ’80s movie themes.

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Steven Spielberg‘s classic family film E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and the movie is finally making its way to Blu-ray, in October. Besides the regular version of the Blu-ray release (which you can check out here), Amazon has a $140 pre-order available for a “limited edition E.T. spaceship edition.” What the heck could that mean? Turns out, it means exactly what you probably think it means.

After the jump, check out a video of the limited edition packaging which looks just like E.T’s ship, and opens up to mechanically present the disc, to the tune of John Williams’ score and all.

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The summer once belonged to Steven Spielberg, and while he doesn’t have a film out this season, we do have something to look forward to from the original blockbuster director. His 1982 film E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is coming to Blu-ray sometime soon, and while we don’t have a release date or expanded feature list we do have a trailer for the release that suggests it features a digital remastering, 7.1 surround sound and “hours of bonus features”.

And for those who want to know for certain that this is the original theatrical version of E.T., just check out the trailer for the new release, below. One of the shots in which shotguns were replaced with walkie-talkies is very clearly shown, and the guns are there, as they were in the original theatrical release. Thanks, Mr. Spielberg!

Update: Bumped this because we now know that the Blu will be released in October. THR says the disc will indeed feature the ’82 theatrical version of the film (as Spielberg promised last year) and “exclusive footage from the set of the film [and] a new interview with Spielberg.”

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