Good news, at least to E.T. fans: The guns and terrorists are back.
In an about-face, Universal has announced plans to release the original, sorta-un-P.C. 1982 version of Steven Spielberg's alien fantasy on the same under-$25 DVD with the digitally enhanced, morally superior 2002 edition.
The E.T. Limited Collector's Edition, with a $22.95 ticket price, is scheduled to be released October 22. It'll mark the DVD debut for the Reese's Pieces-popping little guy.
In June, the studio said the "collector's edition" DVD would feature only the 20th anniversary cut--the one, in theaters last March, where the FBI men's guns were replaced with walkie-talkies, and a gag line about terrorists was changed to a gag line about hippies. If fans wanted to see both the new and original versions, they would be asked to save up about $70 to buy the so-called "gift set."
Suffice to say, the plan didn't fly with the faithful.
"Thanks to the schmucks at Universal...," wrote one fan on a DVD newsgroup (alt.video.dvd) in June, "DVD fans are going to be taking it in the rear by the good-natured alien with the phone fetish."
In announcing its change of heart on Tuesday, Universal noted that it had, indeed, received a "huge response from fans."
As a result of that "huge," and we're guessing vocal, response, both the "collector's edition" and the "gift set," also due out October 22, will include Classic Coke E.T. and New Coke E.T..
In a statement this week, Spielberg said he didn't want fans with less than $70 in disposable DVD cash to be deprived of the 1982 version.
"My intention was never to replace the original film," Spielberg said. "When people buy E.T., I want them to know they have the original movie, not just for collectors and aficionados, but for everybody who remembers it and wants to remember it just that way."
Remembering a film "just that way" is often easier said than done in this era of director's editions, special editions, and, of course, gift sets. Tweaks made to the 2001 DVD release of 1978's Superman--The Movie even resulted in a lawsuit--not by fans outraged that a non-theatrical cut of the film was used, but by the rights' holders of the original film.
In a lawsuit filed in June, Pueblo Film Licensing claimed Warner Bros. recut eight scenes, altered sound effects, and included rare screen tests, without paying for, or seeking permission to use, the so-called "bonus" footage.
E.T.'s voyage to video stores, meanwhile, appears headed for calmer currents. In addition to both E.T. cuts, the limited-edition DVD includes 10 hours of extras. The two-disc gift set, to retail for $69.98, is highlighted by a 50-minute making-of documentary.