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Popular Culture Without E.T.

#5
It makes for interesting speculation - I don't know if E.T. starts the genre or not but I feel like it's what inspired the "kids in peril" movies of the rest of the decade, some of which Spielberg produced. Things like The Goonies and Stand by Me are the famous examples. I feel like Home Alone was the pinnacle of that genre; I can't really think of any really big examples after it; maybe if Jurassic Park didn't have the adults in it, but it does, so it's not. But maybe if E.T. isn't about, those movies are just some more of the ones that don't happen, in addition to the ones you mentioned in the article.

Is 1982 the only time a movie like E.T. could become the biggest movie of all time? It feels like kind of an odd-one-out in that discussion. Before it, you have The Godfather which was a massive prestige thing that everybody had heard about. Jaws was the first summer blockbuster (but there is zero prospect that a borderline horror movie would be a fraction as big today as Jaws was in 1975). Star Wars was Star Wars. And then after it, Jurassic Park had realistic dinosaurs and everybody loves dinosaurs. Titanic was a bona fide cultural phenomenon. Avatar had legitimately unprecedented special effects work. Avengers: Endgame was the finale of its series everybody had been following for 10 years (I don't feel like it has the legacy you would expect but as @Thande pointed out to me that's probably because I block all comment sections everywhere on the Internet).

E.T. had everything going for it, but it's a family movie with a lot of heart but relatively little action in it, not much in the way of effects stuff. Basically it's got very little of the things that the so-called experts claim that movies in 2020 need to be a major hit, never mind the biggest movie ever.
 

Thande

The Great and Powerful Wizard, Opnohop Moy
Published by SLP
#10
I think popular culture would have trundled along quite nicely without it. Even eleven-year-old me didn't think that much of ET: The Extraterrestrial.
The point is not necessarily the film itself but the 'genre' it inspired that @Heavy alludes to, the one which I understand (not having seen it) that "Stranger Things" is a reimagining of, as @Redolegna says. I didn't care for ET at the time either, but I did like Flight of the Navigator, Explorers, etc. and I suspect those would not have been made without it.
 

Thande

The Great and Powerful Wizard, Opnohop Moy
Published by SLP
#12
But if they didn't exist, you wouldn't know that you liked them. ET: The Extraterrestrial was part of a genre that already existed - you can't plagiarise something that doesn't exist.
Something generally has to be popular to either 1) inspire others or 2) more importantly, persuade studios to sign off on said others. It's not enough to just exist.

If you asked people in the early 1970s "say they decide to bring back Star Trek and make a film out of it, what would it be like" absolutely nobody would picture what Star Trek: The Motion Picture turned out as - even though the concept of 'human probe sent into deep space goes mad, comes back and turns on humans' already existed and indeed had already been done in an episode of the TV series. The only reason that film was made as the very long, very slow-paced, very effects-heavy and cerebral piece it was was because of the success of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
 
#13
The only reason that film was made as the very long, very slow-paced, very effects-heavy and cerebral piece it was was because of the success of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
So Close Encounters of the Third Kind is most important Hollywood film of the last 25 years of the 20th century? It's a good film at least, compared to ET: The Extraterrestrial and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (which never struck me as particularly cerebral)

Of course, none of those films would have been made without 2001: A Space Odyssey having been a surprise success. The memetic power of aliens being godlike and benign starts there.
 
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Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#15
So Close Encounters of the Third Kind is most important Hollywood film of the last 25 years of the 20th century?
It'd be one of them, yes, but as Ryan argues, so's ET.

Between them, Jaws (first modern summer blockbuster), Raiders (major influence for 80s), Jurassic Park (kickstarting CGI effects and ending stopmotion), and Saving Private Ryan (reshaping how war was depicted), Speilberg's really got a record for that and that's not counting the films and cartoons and careers he oversaw as a producer. Bay's Transformers, even, which itself may be more influential than we want to think on subsequent summer blockbusters and exists due to Stevey.
 
#17
Between them, Jaws (first modern summer blockbuster), Raiders (major influence for 80s), Jurassic Park (kickstarting CGI effects and ending stopmotion), and Saving Private Ryan (reshaping how war was depicted), Speilberg's really got a record for that and that's not counting the films and cartoons and careers he oversaw as a producer. Bay's Transformers, even, which itself may be more influential than we want to think on subsequent summer blockbusters and exists due to Stevey.
Oh, yeah, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? happened almost entirely because Spielberg wanted it to happen.

At the absolute least, the Disney characters are in it because Spielberg wanted them in it and in 1988, even the Walt Disney Company coud not say no to Steven Spielberg.

You aren't winning me over here, Charles.

I avoid anything Transformers-related with the same level of vigilance I have with Harry Potter.

I don't even like the Lou Reed album, much.
It's not really a question of qualitative judgment.
 
#18
2001: A Space Odyssey is about the development of tools.
The tools are very well developed. They got to the moon.

It's not really a question of qualitative judgment.
Everything is.

The film-as-toy-advert reached its apotheosis with ET: The Extra-Terrestrial. On those terms it eclipsed Return of the Jedi.
 
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#20
I'm just saying, there's, "Is this movie influential?" and there's, "Is this movie good?" and the answer to both questions don't have to be the same.

Lots of people dislike, say, Jar-Jar Binks (not me, though), but the leap forward in motion capture technology that Jar-Jar represented can't really be exaggerated.

Does Gollum happen without Jar-Jar? I don't know, but Andy Serkis in a suit with a bunch of dots on it is probably an easier sell in a post-Jar-Jar world.