In 1982, Steven Spielberg was already at the top of his career. He had made three films that many people already considered classics and could seemingly do no wrong. So when anything associated with his name showed up, the public greedily lapped it up. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, released in the summer of 1982, would be a huge event. But before that memorable release, Universal went all out on promotion. They released multiple trailer for the film. My favorite was the ET the Extra-Terrestrial Teaser Trailer from earlier that year.
This trailer, instead of selling us on the film we would be seeing, sold us on the promise of what it could be. It uses Spielberg’s name and footage from his old films, before finally using just two shots of actual footage from the film. Nowadays film trailers are almost the entire film in condensed form. So it is novel to see how something this vague can be so compelling.
Now you are probably looking at the image above and thinking, “Wow, that looks different.” You are right.
That title treatment is very different from what we would eventually get.
Looking at it, I am not sure which is better. The one that was released with the film is great. But something about using the large E.T letters the way they do in this title treatment just feels so wonderfully clever.
Oh, and what about the addition of “in his adventure on earth” to the end of the title? Not sure when they decided to drop that. Fun fact though, those words would be added to the title of the William Kotzwinkle novelization.
This ET the Extra-Terrestrial Teaser Trailer is a rare gem of the 1980s. This style of trailer was already in decline at the time and with rare exceptions died as the decade progressed. So take a moment to enjoy this piece of our film past. If you are like me, this will most likely set you to thinking about how trailers could possible be improved if we went back to this style.