Steven Spielberg’s classic, ET The Extraterrestrial, cast actor Henry Thomas, then 9, in what was only his second film. In the film, he played Elliot, a boy who forms a powerful bond with an alien stranded on Earth.
A worldwide success, ET surpassed George Lucas’ original Star Wars to become the highest-grossing film of all time in 1982. And it stayed there until 1993, when another Spielberg film, Jurassic Park, stole the top.
Now, 40 years after ET’s tearful goodbye, fans have seen a “return” of the character in a commercial for Thanksgiving 2019. The figure appeared in a commercial. “Home for the Holidays” from Comcast Xfinity. And the 4-minute ad shows a technologically advanced present (benefiting from that first encounter) where a now-grown Elliot has a family. But he still has an affinity for his alien friend and a good bike ride.
When the ad aired, many thought it was a teaser of an ET sequence. Of course, even if it wasn’t, some still wonder if this concept could be explored.
In a recent interview with ComicBook.com, Thomas, now 50, was asked about hit movie sequels from the past, such as Top Gun: Maverickand what they might mean for ET The Extraterrestrial.
According to Thomas, Spielberg himself is unlikely to revisit ET. With the Comcast Xfinity commercial being the closest audiences will ever see to a meeting between ET and Elliot.
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“There have been ideas thrown around over the years. There were some serious talks early on because the studio was really pushing to follow the success of the 1982 season… That’s why the commercial, I think Spielberg approved of the commercial because that’s as close to a sequel as he’s willing to go. As he is willing to allow. The response to this Xfinity announcement was so overwhelming and people thought it was a teaser for a sequel that created a huge buzz on the internet.”
Since the release of ET The Extraterrestrial, many details have been revealed about a possible sequel. For example, the original ending of ET created a sequel, with a final scene approaching a working communicator. Which would imply that Elliot and ET were still in contact.
However, the scene ended up being cut because the goodbye between Elliott and ET proved to be a much more powerful way to end the movie.
What would the sequel look like?
Spielberg and Melissa Mathison even wrote a first treatment for a sequel, titled ET II: Night Fears, which follows Elliott and his friends as they are abducted by aliens and saved by ET.
Ultimately, Spielberg abandoned this idea because he felt it would betray the purity of the original. However, ET book author William Kotzwinkle wrote a sequel, ET: The Green Planet Bookset on the home planet of the title character, Brodo Asogi.
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Thomas co-star Drew Barrymore also said that a sequel to ET The Extraterrestrial never gonna happen. While a sequel or reboot likely won’t see the night sky without Spielberg’s approval, the film’s spirit lives on in nostalgic projects like Stranger Thingswhich revitalized interest in 1980s pop culture.
Considering the amount of pressure that would come with creating an ET sequel, and the chance of tarnishing the legacy of the original, it might be best if the titular alien stays home this time around.