Star Wars Close Encounters of the Third Kind

(Welcome to The Movies That Made Star Wars, a series where we explore the films that inspired, or help us better understand, George Lucas’s iconic universe. In this edition: Close Encounters of the Third Kind.)

If you were standing at a bookie’s office in January of 1977 and were going to put money on which was going to be the bigger film, Star Wars or Close Encounters of the Third Kind, where would you put your money? If you’re George Lucas, you put your money on Close Encounters. Steven Spielberg definitely seems like the sure bet. His films have a better, longer track record and Lucas was coming up with his Junior effort that no one really believed in.

It was on the set of Close Encounters that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg made exactly this bet. Lucas was convinced Star Wars would bomb and Close Encounters would be the bigger hit at the box office and, as the story goes, Lucas wagered 2.5% of the box office receipts against 2.5% of Spielberg’s film. Close Encounters was huge, but Star Wars was astronomically bigger. If the bet was paid out, it’s estimated it could have cost Lucas upwards of $40 million.

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ready player one spielberg references

Ernest Cline‘s Ready Player One is full of references to Steven Spielberg films, which made the news that Spielberg was directing the film adaptation himself raise an eyebrow or two. The blockbuster director planned to cut references to his films from the adaptation, but the Ready Player One movie crew had other ideas.

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/Answers: Our Favorite Hard Science Fiction Movies

annihilation early buzz

Every week in /Answers, we answer a new pop culture-related question. In this edition, we celebrate the release of Annihilation by asking “What is your favorite hard science fiction movie?” For our purposes here, we’re defining “hard science fiction” as sci-fi that bases its concepts in actual science or builds it’s narrative around far-reaching concepts and ideas. Read More »

Gallery 1988 - Dan Mumford - Close Encounters of the Third Kind

With the plethora of prints out there paying tribute to our favorite movies and TV shows, it’s always nice to have an artist whose style is uniquely their own. That’s why we love Dan Mumford so much.

We’ve featured plenty of Dan Mumford’s work before, but now he has a solo show coming to Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles this weekend with a whole new slate of pieces paying tribute to the likes of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Gremlins, Dune, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze and more. Check out some of the Dan Mumford artwork below. Read More »

Spielberg Documentary

Steven Spielberg is one of our greatest living filmmakers. While some may want to write the Jaws filmmaker off as nothing more than a purveyor of popular blockbusters, very few directors understand the language of cinema as well as Spielberg. While many filmmakers can’t block a shot to save their lie, Spielberg can convey an entire story wordlessly with his imagery. He’s one of the medium’s true masters.

Susan Lacy‘s new HBO documentary Spielberg takes a look at the successful filmmakers vast career, and we picked out 10 revealing facts from the Spielberg documentary that you should know. And then you should watch the doc for yourself, of course.

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wonder woman blu-ray

(Welcome to Not Dead Yet, a feature dedicated to what’s new on Blu-ray and what special features you should be excited about. Because yes, some of us still like to own physical copies of our movies.)

Remember physical media? It still exists! I swear! And while streaming is great, there’s something to be said for a Blu-ray release, especially considering not everything is available via streaming. So we’re going to dust off our physical media release column and take it around the track. There’s still life in this one yet. Join me, won’t you?

This week on Blu-ray we have the best film in the DCEU, a charming rom-com, a Steven Spielberg classic, and a beautiful film where Kristen Stewart eats a sandwich.

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close encounters of the third kind 2

Before I became a father, one of the most common things that would annoy me when talking to other people who were also parents was some version of the following: “Well, you can’t really understand it unless you have kids.” I would roll my eyes behind their backs. I’d tell myself that having kids can make a major impact on your life, but you can still question a parent’s choices or wonder if you’d do things differently without having kids yourself. I am still not a huge fan of this phrase – we can all empathize with someone else, even if we don’t walk in their shoes. But it’s a phrase I kept thinking about when I sat down to watch the 4K restoration of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind this past weekend, as it celebrates its 40th anniversary.

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Movies to Watch With Close Encounters of the Third Kind

(Welcome to Movie Mixtape, where we find cinematic relatives and seek out interesting connections between new releases and older movies that allow us to rethink and enjoy what’s in our theaters as well as the favorites on our shelf. In this edition: the re-release of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.)

Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, so it’s being re-released into select theaters this weekend. If you’re near one of the theaters, it offers a fantastic opportunity to see a movie worthy of the big screen as it was intended. If you’re not, you can still load it up on your own personal medium screen and fill your living room with blinking lights and familial angst.

That’s the brilliance of it, right? Like many Spielberg movies, Close Encounters delivers spectacle without relying on it. We get the big-think intrigue of the science fiction, and the thrill of making contact with aliens, but the heart of the story is the obsession that drives a wedge between Richard Dreyfuss’s Roy and his family.

Above all else, there’s a human cost to reaching for the stars.

So what should we watch with it?

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Close Encounters of the Third Kind In Theaters

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the first time Steven Spielberg tinkered with the idea of life from another planet coming to Earth. To celebrate, the sci-fi classic is coming back to theaters.

Following a cryptic teaser not too long ago, Columbia Pictures has officially announced the return of Close Encounters of the Third Kind in theaters in September, and they’ve debuted an ominous trailer to tease the film’s return.

Find out when you can catch Close Encounters of the Third Kind in theaters again below. Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

President Obama's Essential Sci-Fi Movies and TV Shows - Star Trek

With this year’s election just 25 days away, we’re reminded that President Barack Obama only has a few more months left in office. Regardless of how you feel about his politics, I think we can all agree that President Obama is one of the nerdiest Commanders in Chief that we’ve had, and that’s been rather refreshing.

In case you need any more proof of just how much of a geek President Obama really is, he took the time to act as guest editor for WIRED magazine, where he put together a little list of his essential sci-fi movies and television shows. Some of them he grew up with, while others are more recent and provide thought-provoking and inspirational stories. Check out the list of President Obama’s essential sci-fi movies and TV shows after the jump. Read More »