Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a 1977 American science fiction film written and directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Richard Dreyfuss, Melinda Dillon, Teri Garr, Bob Balaban, Cary Guffey, and François Truffaut. It tells the story of Roy Neary, an everyday blue-collar worker in Indiana, whose life changes after an encounter with an unidentified flying object (UFO).
Close Encounters was a long-cherished project for Spielberg. In late 1973, he developed a deal with Columbia Pictures for a science-fiction film. Though Spielberg received sole credit for the script, he was assisted by Paul Schrader, John Hill, David Giler, Hal Barwood, Matthew Robbins, and Jerry Belson, all of whom contributed to the screenplay in varying degrees. The title is derived from Ufologist J. Allen Hynek’s classification of close encounters with extraterrestrials, in which the third kind denotes human observations of extraterrestrials or “animate beings”. Douglas Trumbull served as the visual effects supervisor, while Carlo Rambaldi designed the extraterrestrials.
Made on a production budget of $19.4 million, Close Encounters was released in a limited number of cities on November 16, 1977, and November 23, 1977, before expanding into wide release the following month. It was a critical and financial success, eventually grossing over $300 million worldwide. The film received numerous awards and nominations at the 50th Academy Awards, 32nd British Academy Film Awards, the 35th Golden Globe Awards and the 5th Saturn Awards, and has been widely acclaimed by the American Film Institute.
In December 2007, it was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. A Special Edition of the film, featuring both shortened and newly added scenes, was released theatrically in 1980. Spielberg agreed to do the special edition to add more scenes that they were unable to include in the original release, with the studio demanding a controversial scene depicting the interior of the extraterrestrial mothership. Spielberg’s dissatisfaction with the altered ending scene led to a third version of the film, referred to as the Director’s Cut, that was issued on VHS and LaserDisc in 1998 (and later DVD and Blu-ray). The director’s cut is the longest version of the film, combining Spielberg’s favorite elements from both previous editions but removing the scenes inside the extraterrestrial mothership. The film was later remastered in 4K and re-released in theatres on September 1, 2017 for its 40th anniversary.
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