Steven Spielberg Talks UFOs and Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Case File Information

Date of Event / Case File: 01/01/1977

Steven Spielberg UFO Background

While speaking on the set of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Steven Spielberg discusses his beliefs regarding UFOs and alien visitation to Earth.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a 1977 American science fiction film, written and directed by Steven Spielberg and featuring Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Melinda Dillon, Teri Garr, Bob Balaban, and Cary Guffey. It tells the story of Roy Neary, an everyday blue collar worker in Indiana, whose life changes after an encounter with an unidentified flying object (UFO).

Close Encounters was a long-cherished project for Spielberg. In late 1973, he developed a deal with Columbia Pictures for a science fiction film. Though Spielberg received sole credit for the script, he was assisted by Paul Schrader, John Hill, David Giler, Hal Barwood, Matthew Robbins, and Jerry Belson, all of whom contributed to the screenplay in varying degrees. The title is derived from UFO-ologist J. Allen Hynek’s classification of close encounters with aliens, in which the third kind denotes human observations of aliens or “animate beings.” Douglas Trumbull served as the visual effects supervisor, while Carlo Rambaldi designed the aliens.

Made on a production budget of $18 million, Close Encounters was released in a limited number of cities on November 23, 1977 before expanding into a wide release the following month. It was a critical and financial success, eventually grossing over $337 million worldwide.

A Special Edition of the film, featuring additional scenes, was issued in 1980. A third cut of the film was released to home video and laserdisc in 1998 (and later DVD and Blu-ray). The film received numerous awards and nominations at the 50th Academy Awards, 32nd British Academy Film Awards, the 35th Golden Globe Awards, the Saturn Awards and has been widely acclaimed by the American Film Institute. In December 2007, it was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

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