E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial was originally supposed to end much differently. Steven Spielberg has directed numerous films throughout his career, with some going on to break box office records and become pop culture staples; E.T. is one of those movies. Universal Pictures released the film in 1982, and it went on to surpass George Lucas' original Star Wars (later retitled Episode IV -- A New Hope) to become the highest-grossing movie of all-time, a record that it held until Spielberg broke it himself with Jurassic Park in 1993.
The film had numerous reasons to be deemed an instant classic, such as John Williams' award-winning original score that continues to resonate to this day, but aside from that and other obvious reasons, the movie's ending is what really made it a timeless story. For those that don't remember (or are unfamiliar), Elliot and the other children had evaded police in order to get E.T. back to his ship. Once at the ship, E.T. says his goodbyes and takes off, with Williams' iconic score playing in the background. It was an emotional ending, but the thing is, it wasn't the original ending the movie was supposed to have.
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial celebrated its 35th anniversary this past June, and next month, it'll be returning to theaters for a limited time in order to commemorate the milestone. Ahead of the movie's re-release, Yahoo! Movies caught up with Robert MacNaughton, who played Elliot's older brother, Michael, in the film, and he revealed that the movie's ending was originally much different in the script but that he understands why it was changed.
"The last scene in the movie wasn't supposed to be the scene that ends up in the movie. The last scene was going to be all of us playing Dungeons and Dragons again, except this time, Elliott's the dungeon master. Because he was the one that found ET, he sort of got in with the group. And so that was supposed to be the final scene, it was in the script and everything, and then they would pan up to the roof and you'd see the communicator and it's still working -- in other words, Elliott is still in touch with E.T.. But after they did the score, the music, and they saw what they had with the spaceship taking off and everything [laughs] -- how can you follow that? I mean, it was a wise choice."
E.T. fans may remember that the game Dungeons and Dragons was core to the overarching narrative. In fact, MacNaughton had also said part of the reason he was cast in the film was that he knew how the play the game already. So, seeing Elliot become the new dungeon master certainly would have delivered an emotional punch to audiences, especially to those who understand the game, but it seems like MacNaughton knows the ending that Spielberg and Co. eventually went with was the right choice to make.
If they had gone with the original ending, perhaps that would have enticed Spielberg and screenwriter Melissa Mathison to pursue their plans to make a sequel, with Elliot and his friends eventually attempting to contact E.T. after being kidnapped by aliens. Their initial ending certainly would have left the door open for such a sequel to happen. However, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial would no longer be the one-off classic that it is today.
Source: Yahoo! Movies