It was July 1982 and Steven Spielberg had just become considerably richer. His charming alien fantasy ‘E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial’, which saw Henry Thomas play a little boy who befriends an excrement-shaped alien, was on its way to overtaking ‘Star Wars’ as the highest-grossing film of all time.
With studio Universal’s coffers quickly filling, Spielberg and ‘E.T.’ writer Melissa Mathison quickly began work on a nine-page story treatment for a sequel called ‘E.T. 2: Nocturnal Fears’. Thankfully it was never made.
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The treatment, which can be found online and has been reviewed by several bloggers, featured child torture, evil albino aliens and almost nothing of the cute alien from the first film.
It opened once again with a UFO landing in a forest. But it’s not E.T. in there; it’s a bunch of albino mutant versions, led by an alien called Korel. They are there to investigate the distress beacon sent by ‘E.T.’ – whose real name is revealed as ‘Zrek’.
Apparently the story then switched to the kids, Elliott, Michael and Gertie. They miss their alien chum and when Elliott gets a feeling E.T. has returned they all head out to the forest to investigate.
Things then become really dark. The kids are captured, and Korel tortures Elliott for information about E.T. (sorry, ‘Zrek’). Apparently Elliott’s screams of pain echo through the forest.
Eventually Elliott’s mum, who has now shacked up with the scientist from the first film, finds E.T.’s radio and summons him to help out the kids. He returns and duly does just that, before re-programming Korel’s ship to fly to a ‘remote corner of the galaxy’, and heads off back into outer space himself.
Sci-fi boffins reckon the story, which would’ve doubtless been altered if it had ever gone into production, was based on another much darker alien idea Spielberg had called ‘Night Skies’. Developed after ‘Close Encounters’, it saw a family home menaced by extra-terrestrial nasties. The director ended up using some of the material in ‘Poltergeist’, which he produced.
Thankfully, Spielberg quickly decided a sequel to one of the most beloved sci-fi films of all time might be a bad move, saying (somewhat creepily): “it would do nothing but rob the original of its virginity’.
He’d already seen the legacy of his other big hit, ‘Jaws’, tarnished by increasingly awful sequels, though series nadir ‘Jaws 4: The Revenge’ hadn’t yet been released. Indeed it only adds to ‘E.T.’s considerable charms that this beautiful film never became a long-running and cynical franchise.
‘E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial’ celebrates its 30th Anniversary this week.