No one has been expecting a sequel to E.T. The Extra Terrestrial to come to fruition, and we certainly weren’t expecting one to drop on Thanksgiving. But here we are.
During the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a commercial for Xfinity aired featuring E.T. reuniting with his old friend Elliot just in time for the holidays. And, yes, they even got grown up Henry Thomas back to reprise his role from the original movie. Despite being a commercial for Xfinity which isn’t nearly as cringeworthy as you’re thinking, it’s actually really touching. Watch the E.T. Christmas commercial below.
E.T. Christmas Commercial
In the commercial directed by Lance Acord, Elliot is grown up with a family of his own, but he couldn’t be more thrilled to see E.T. finally show back up on Earth after all these years. His kids are freaked out at first, but clearly he’s told them all about his little adventure from nearly 40 years ago. And E.T. looks just as good as he did in the original movie, thanks to the work of Legacy Effects.
E.T. joins the family in all of their holiday festivities, including partaking in some Reese’s Pieces cupcakes at dinner, sledding, and throwing some snowballs. The Xfinity part of this whole thing comes when Elliot’s kids introduce the alien to the internet, powered by Xfinity. Thankfully, they don’t dwell on it, and it’s the only obvious product placement in the entire commercial.
Though E.T. enjoys spending time with Elliot again, he starts to miss his own family, which we see projected in the form of a hologram from a floating ball, some advanced alien technology we’ve never seen him use before. Looking to get home, he recruits Elliot’s kids to recreate that magical flying bike scene again, so he can get back to his ship and head home.
Maybe it’s just because it’s the holidays, or maybe it’s just the magic of seeing grown up Elliot back with E.T., but kudos to Xfinity for doing such a wonderful holiday commercial that doesn’t feel quite as crass as some of the pop culture cash-in advertising out there.
If you’re hanging around with the family this week, E.T. will be playing on SyFy on Thanksgiving Day, and it will also be available on demand for Xfinity customers. In fact, if you have the X1 voice remote, you can say “E.T. Phone Home,” and be taken to an E.T.-theme destination in the user interface.
To give more families the opportunity to experience the magic of E.T. this holiday season, we will be featuring the film on SYFY on Thanksgiving Day and making it available on demand for Xfinity TV customers. Xfinity TV customers with X1 will be able to say “E.T. Phone Home” into their Voice Remote for an E.T.-themed destination. Also, anyone who visits a Xfinity retail location can pick up a special E.T. coloring book and candy!
Quotes for attribution:
Henry Thomas, Elliott:
“The audience is going to get everything they want out of a sequel without the messy bits that could destroy the beauty of the original and the special place it has in people’s minds and hearts. It’s really a win-win.” “Looking at the storyboards, I could see exactly why Steven Spielberg was really behind it, because the integrity of the story isn’t lost in this retelling.”
Peter Intermaggio, Senior Vice President for Marketing Communications, Comcast Cable: “Our goal is to show how Xfinity and Sky technology connects family, friends and loved ones, which is so important during the holidays. The classic friendship between E.T. and Elliott resonates around the world, and their story became a very meaningful way to bring our company’s consumer technology to life.”
Jeff Goodby, co-chairman, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners GS&P: “People don’t care about technology inherently. They care about the way it connects them to other people. This story is an emotional reunion between two characters we know and love. It’s a perfect story for the holidays at a time when our emotions are very close to the surface.”
Lance Acord, Director: “More than anything, the whole story is about family.”
Xfinity has caused problems for millions of cable, internet and telephone subscribers over the years. But we have to hand it to them for getting the approval of director Steven Spielberg to create an E.T. The Extra Terrestrial sequel in the form of a touching holiday commercial that reunites Elliot, now all grown up with a family of his own, with the alien who changed his life forever. Now you can see how it was made with a look behind the scenes at the making of the E.T. The Extra Terrestrial Christmas commercial.
Making of the E.T. The Extra Terrestrial Christmas Commercial
Henry Thomas sets the stage for how this holiday commercial came together at Xfinity. It’s nice to hear the actor has just as much reverence for the film that everyone came to love when it was released in 1982. Thomas wasn’t necessarily invested in making it happen unless Steven Spielberg was on board, and he was surprised to learn when his approval had already been given.
Even though this commercial is in the hands of director Lance Acord, you’ll find plenty of touches from the original movie throughout. There’s a photo of the dog Elliot had as a child, Gertie’s cup, the original bike from the movie, and some more subtle references and Easter eggs that can be noticed on repeat viewings of the commercial. They even went so far as to meticulously recreate the machine E.T. used to call home.
As for E.T. himself, Legacy Effects is responsible for bringing him to life through the use of both puppetry and digital effects used to touch him up. E.T. is able to move in a much more easy and sophisticated way, largely thanks to the fact that it’s much easier to erase puppeteers from a scene digitally, something that simply wasn’t possible back when the original movie was made.
If you haven’t seen the commercial in question yet, you can watch it over here.