Steven Spielberg was in attendance at last night’s Los Angeles Times Hero Complex 30th anniversary screening of his seminal adventure epic Raiders of the Lost Ark, the film that introduced Indiana Jones to the world and cemented Harrison Ford‘s movie star status, and at a post-screening Q&A the Academy Award-winning filmmaker took time to address a topic that has been on film fans’ minds over the past few weeks.
During the Q&A session, in which Harrison Ford made a surprise guest appearance, Spielberg fielded questions about the status of the E.T. and the Indiana Jones movies on Blu-ray. The director hinted that both releases were in the works, but then he polled the audience to see if they would have a problem with only the 1982 theatrical release version of E.T. being released on Blu-ray. The answer from the crowd was a loud and resounding “NO!” Spielberg also revealed that he has no intentions of tinkering with Raiders of the Lost Ark for its eventual Blu-ray either.
For myself, I tried this once and lived to regret it. Not because of fan outrage, but because I was disappointed in myself. I got overly sensitive to [some of the reaction] to E.T., and I thought if technology evolved, [I might go in and change some things]…it was OK for a while, but I realized what I had done was I had robbed people who loved E.T. of their memories of E.T.
The questions as to whether Spielberg would doctor up his previous films for Blu-ray were at the forefront of everyone’s minds, thanks to the recent controversy over the revelation that his pal George Lucas made even more changes to the Star Wars films in preparation for their upcoming Blu-ray release, which we first reported on HERE. This has further angered fans of the movies who have been unforgivably steamed since Lucas started revising the movies with the 1997 theatrical release of the Special Edition versions of the original trilogy.
Spielberg is no stranger to the trend of reediting his own films; he actually beat Lucas to the punch by nearly two decades when he shot new footage and deleted several scenes for a 1980 theatrical re-release of his science fiction drama Close Encounters of the Third Kind, including an elaborate visual effects sequence depicting the inside of an alien spacecraft that became the main selling point of the new edition. Spielberg later regretted making those changes, but in 1997 he went back to Close Encounters once again for a new 20th anniversary VHS and laserdisc release of the film and finally created his definitive edit. All three cuts of the film were released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2007, the first of Spielberg’s films to be released on Blu-ray.
In 2002, Spielberg decided to revisit another of his beloved classic blockbusters when E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was re-released in theaters and on DVD for its 20th anniversary. He took out several uses of derogatory language and made several digital alterations including some CGI additions to E.T. and the replacement of guns with walkie-talkies. This move by the filmmaker was motivated in part by pressure from parents’ group to remove the more objectionable content of the movie. Both the 1982 theatrical and 2002 re-release versions of E.T. were later released together on one DVD set, which at least shows generosity on Steven Spielberg’s part.