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Spielberg Alien Epic Hits The Big 3-Oh

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2007 12:38:46 -0500
Archived: Mon, 12 Nov 2007 12:38:46 -0500
Subject: Spielberg Alien Epic Hits The Big 3-Oh

Source: The New York Post - NewYork, USA


November 12, 2007

'Encounter' - Culture

Spielberg Alien Epic Hits The Big 3-Oh
By Lou Lumenick
Post Movie Critic

One week before Close Encounters Of The Third Kind opened on
Nov. 16, 1977, a highly negative article appeared in New York
magazine with an illustration of a UFO laying a big egg atop the
movie's landmark location, the Devil's Tower.

"In my opinion, the film will be a colossal flop," opined a
financial writer who snuck into a test screening in Dallas. The
Steven Spielberg classic is celebrating its 30th anniversary
this week.

The story said: "It lacks the dazzle, charm, wit, imagination
and broad audience appeal of Star Wars", which had been released
a few months earlier.

"Columbia Pictures' stock went down precipitously," says Bob
Balaban, who plays the interpreter for Francois Truffaut's UFO
expert. "But a little skepticism was the best thing that could
have happened, given the huge anticipation for Steven's follow-
up to Jaws, and how much the movie cost," Balaban continues.

"It sort of cleared the air. There were humorous reactions from
the preview audience to stuff that was supposed to be serious,
so Steven went back in and made some changes, including taking
out the song 'When You Wish Upon a Star.' Everything was fine."

Close Encounters - starring Richard Dreyfuss as a UFO-obsessed
man who gets to live out his ultimate dream - went on to become
one of the monster hits of the era, grossing $303 million
worldwide. When the figures are adjusted for inflation, it still
ranks as the 67th top-grossing flick of all time (Star Wars is
No. 2, behind"Gone With the Wind).

Balaban says he didn't have any sense the film would become a
classic when he was making it. But he looks back on it on the
lengthy shoot - which at one point took him to India - as one of
his favorite experiences.

"I've been in a lot of movies, big and small," says Balaban,
whose lengthy r=E9sum=E9 includes Midnight Cowboy, Gosford Park
and several as a director, as well as a recurring role as NBC's
president on Seinfeld.

"Usually you remember one or two things, but after 30 years, I
still vividly recall every day on Close Encounters, where I
was standing next to Francois Truffaut for nine months. At one
point, this great French director turned to me and said, 'Now I
know what you actors go through.'"

Close Encounters is being released tomorrow in a new three-disc
'ultimate' edition that makes the original 1977 theatrical
version available on video for the first time. Also included are
Spielberg's 1980 'special edition' and a 1999 version that
combined the director's favorite parts of the two earlier ones.

Why has the film endured in the public's imagination?

"Steven's spirit and... personality, Steven's most personal
inner life got captured on two hours of celluloid," Balaban
says. "It's got all this amazing technical stuff, but in the end
Steven made a movie that transcended what he set out to do."

More at blogs.nypost.com/movies

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