How Spielberg is changing ''E.T.'' for 2002 | EW.com

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How Spielberg is changing ''E.T.'' for 2002

EW.com offers a sneak peek at how the director is updating his beloved classic for its theatrical rerelease

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

(ET: Universal/Kobal Collection)

Forget phoning home: E.T. better call the N.R.A.

Through the magic of computer-generated imagery, Steven Spielberg has imposed some serious gun control on the 20th anniversary edition of ”E.T. the Extra Terrestrial,” due in theaters March 22. The firearms once brandished by the film’s alien-hunting feds now show up as innocuous walkie-talkies – or just disappear. ”He has always regretted that he put guns in this movie,” Kathleen Kennedy, producer of Spielberg films from ”E.T.” to ”A.I.,” tells EW.com. ”He thought it was kind of silly that the police would be chasing these kids with guns.”

But don’t turn off your heartlight. After more than a year’s worth of Spielberg-led tweaking by Industrial Light & Magic, the missing guns are just the beginning of the changes audiences will soon see.

E.T.’s Got A Brand-New Head Well, not really. But ILM did use digital effects to expand the title character’s repertoire of facial expressions beyond those he could manage as a mere mechanical dummy. ”All we’ve done is brought E.T. to life in a slightly more realistic way,” Kennedy promises. ”And we did that very carefully. We didn’t want to go in and suddenly start recreating the look of E.T. in any way shape, or form. They’re subtle changes, in a way that really does enhance E.T.’s performance and makes him a little more lovable – and helps him say ‘phone home’ a little easier than 12 people pulling cables did.”

Halloween Terror Is Out In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, Kennedy and Spielberg decided that a throwaway line in ”E.T.”’s Halloween sequence – ”You are not going as a terrorist!” mother Mary (Dee Wallace Stone) tells son Michael (Robert MacNaughton) – was ”completely inappropriate.” So they brought Stone back to record a new line: ”You are not going as a hippie!”