12 Things You Probably Never Knew About E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

Which studio turned it down for being a "wimpy Walt Disney movie"?

ET Indiana Jones 2
Universal Pictures/Paramount

As far as the cast and crew of Steven Spielberg's E.T. were concerned, the titular extra-terrestrial was nothing more than a collection of costumes with slight alterations and complicated animatronic creations that made the shoot a logistical nightmare. To those growing up in the '80s, however, E.T. was the best friend we all wanted to find in the tool shed out back.

The story of the little stranded alien and the boy determined to see him safely home was a box office sensation when it was released in 1982, surpassing Star Wars to become the highest-grossing film of all time. Spielberg would go on to break his own record over a decade later with Jurassic Park, though nothing the director has released since E.T. has managed to capture that same sense of wonder.

A film of such cultural importance is always going to generate ongoing interest, and in the near 35 years since E.T.'s initial release a number of stories about the movie and its production have surfaced, some flattering, others incriminating, all of them interesting. One such story about Atari burying copies of their disastrous tie-in video game in a New Mexico landfill turned out to be 100% true, but which other E.T. urban legends are actually based on fact?

12. It Kick-Started Reese's Pieces

ET Indiana Jones 2
Universal Pictures

In the original script, when Elliot lured E.T. out from his shed and into his home using candy, his confectionery of choice was supposed to be M&Ms. When Spielberg took the idea to M&Ms owners Mars Incorporated, however, the company insisted on seeing a full copy of the screenplay before they would sanction the use of their product, especially given how ugly the little alien creature was. Ouch.

When Universal denied their request (the production was kept as quiet as possible to keep the nature of the film under wraps) Mars passed up the opportunity. The chance was then offered to the company behind Hershey Kisses, who weren't going to make the same mistake. Hershey Kisses were a popular treat at the time, though the Hershey company countered with an offer that the film instead use their latest creation - Reese's Pieces.

Hershey splashed out $1 million as part of a deal to get their peanut cups some worldwide exposure, and in the end it was worth every cent - the Hershey Company recorded a 65% jump in their Reese's Pieces profits just a fortnight after the film premiered.


Phil still hasn't got round to writing a profile yet, as he has an unhealthy amount of box sets on the go.