Year released: 1982
Overall U.S. box office gross: $359.2 millionAgain, that's just what Stephen Spielberg's pop-cultural phenomenon made during its first summer back in 1982. Adjusted for inflation, that's $866.45 million, or roughly $240 million more than what The Avengers made in the U.S. last summer. That's also before the first re-release in 1985 and the second CGI-laden, walkie-talkies-instead-of-guns 20th anniversary re-release in 2002. It's also perhaps the reason why you see so many product and video game tie-ins today. Hershey (HSY) was giddy after Mars passed on a cameo for M&M's and Reese's Pieces sales spiked after their role in the film. The E.T. video game for the Atari 2600 was godawful and wasted thousands of hours by forcing gamers to fall into holes they couldn't escape, but it sold copies -- even if millions more ended up in a New Mexico landfill, crashing the video game market as a result. If that doesn't give you some idea of the power of this film, consider Neil Diamond's 1982 song Heartlight. It may sound like the maudlin, sung-plot-point pap that tended to accompany films in the late '70s and early '80s, but it doesn't appear on the E.T. soundtrack. Diamond and songwriter Burt Bacharach wrote it after seeing E.T. for the first time. It inspired the song, an album of the same name and some of the worst karaoke performances a human being may ever sit through. Think about that the next time you see that ham-on-a-periscope alien asking to phone home.
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