20 Most Important Blockbusters That Changed Cinema Forever

18. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

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Universal Pictures

Summer 1982 was one of the best times for sci-fi movies. TRON hinted at a future inside a computer, Star Trek made its best film and Blade Runner and The Thing were released on the same weekend. Oh, and E.T. arrived.

If the notion of a big blockbuster taking place within one town and featuring a small cast of kids feels antiquated it's because the landscape of summer films has changed so much since. But that doesn't make E.T. irrelevant in the history of the medium. The film became the highest grossing film ever thus far (another phrase that'll recur a lot) and with its every-kid heroes gave a generation reason to look skywards and dream; here was family sci-fi not set far far away or in the distant future but here and now.

E.T. would go on to shape family films for the rest of the decade, with Spielberg-inspired suburbia becoming a touchstone for many an eighties-kid; its modern Americana directly influenced Zemekis, Dante and more, along with more recent homage Super 8 and rip-off Earth To Echo.

The film had a much wider effect on film in general though, with the children who grew up with it now shape the industry.


Film Editor (2014-2016). Loves The Usual Suspects. Hates Transformers 2. Everything else lies somewhere in the middle. Once met the Chuckle Brothers.