2. ET is born
In 1980, Steven Spielberg was shooting Raiders Of The Lost Ark.
Sick of the Tunisian portion of the shoot, with its harsh heat and crew sickness, the young director found himself frequently distracted and prone to daydreaming.
"I might have taken leave of my senses," recalls Spielberg.
"Throughout the production of Raiders, I was in between killing Nazis and blowing up flying wings and having Harrison Ford in all this high serialized adventure, I was sitting there in the middle of Tunisia, scratching my head and saying, 'I've got to get back to the tranquillity, or at least the spirituality, of Close Encounters.'"
With his thoughts once more turning to alien visitors, he began talking to scriptwriter Melissa Matheson about the ideas in Night Skies.
The two ditched the scarier aspects and instead focused on the character of "Buddy", the lone friendly creature, who befriends an autistic member of the farming family.
In the original Skies story, Buddy ends up abandoned on Earth and this became the main plot for a new script, which Mathison wrote in eight weeks, entitled ET And Me.
While it would go through two more drafts before Spielberg submitted it to studios (with a friend of main character Elliott deleted and scenes such as ET getting drunk and the big final chase added), the director was delighted with the final form of the screenplay.
Columbia Pictures, at the time, however, was less thrilled.
The studio had been expecting a hardcore sci-fi thriller in the vein of Night Skies, and declined to pick up the "wimpy Walt Disney movie". Regrets? They've had a few...
Sid Sheinberg of MCA Universal, however, loved the concept and offered money to begin research into creating the perfect creature.
It would take a while, though...
Next: The trouble with ET