|Starring: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote, Robert MacNaughton
Director: Steven Spielberg
Year Of Release: 1982
Plot: An alien is stranded on Earth after his spaceship leaves without him, finding a friend when he comes across a boy called Elliot. The two share a very special bond, as Elliot tries to teach ET about Earth, and the alien attempts to build a machine to communicate with his people. However government agents know theres an alien around, and closes in Elliot and his new friend.
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I know a few people who hate ET, but thats largely because the alien terrified them when they were tiny and theyve never quite gotten over it. However its difficult now to appreciate what a huge movie it was when it was released in 1982. By the end of its run it was the first film ever to gross over $350 million in the US, ending up holding the worldwide record for the highest grossing movie ever for the next 11 years, when it was overtaken by another Spielberg movie, Jurassic Park (and the great bearded one had held the top spot before, with Jaws, making him the only person to have three different movies that at one point or another were the highest grossing film ever).
But while were used to movies grossing huge amounts now, and something like Avatar seems unusual when it spends months on the top 10, ET was on a different level. The film ran for over a full year in cinemas, and was still grossing more than a million dollars a week on its 52nd week in US theatres.
And 28 years after its first release, it still holds several notable records, which show just how unusual it was. The film spent the more weekends at number 1 on the US box office chart than any other (16 of them, just outdoing Titanics 15), it had the most weekends in the top 5 (27 which is more than six months!), and the most weekends in the top 10 (44). With that last record, it means that if a woman had gotten pregnant on the day ET was released, shed have reached her due date and had the baby before the film dropped out of the top 10.
And while many people like to rubbish the grosses of modern films that have neared the top of the highest grossing movie ever list, by saying that if you adjust things for inflation they pale in comparison to the classics, ET is still the sixth highest-grossing movie ever in the US before you adjust for inflation, and rises to number four if you do take inflation into account, with only Gone With The Wind, Star Wars and The Sound Of Music ahead of it. Its thought that in 2010 dollars, ETs gross stands at around $1,127,742,000 billion just in North America. Incidentally on that list, while Avatar is being hailed for its gargantuan box office, on the adjusted US list, its down at number 14, just behind Ben-Hur.
Just to show the films continuing popularity, in a piece of fortuitous timing, as I wrote this the Radio Times has revealed that ET has topped their poll of the Best Family Films Of All time, beating The Wizard Of Oz and Mary Poppins to the top slot.
And to finish off, while there are plenty of lists out there of the top films at the box office, what you dont come across as often, is a list of the movies that at one time or another, held the record for having the highest ever box office gross worldwide, before being toppled by a new box office titan. So courtesy of Wikipedia, here is that list (although it should be noted the list isnt definitive, and that pre-The Godfather, theres inevitably an element of estimating the films actual gross, as records werent as available in the past as they are now – the final grosses are also the result of numerous releases for most of these films).
|Year Released||Title||# Of Years Held||Worldwide Gross|
|1915||The Birth Of A Nation||3||$10,000,000|
|1937||Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs||3||$65,595,800|
|1939||Gone With The Wind||34||$390,600,000|
|1982||ET: The Extra Terrestrial||11||$790,910,555|
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