Nobody loves putting butts in seats quite like Universal Pictures, and with E.T., Universal hit the butt jackpot, so to speak.
Universal Pictures Makes it Rain
By the time E.T. hit theaters, Universal, the third oldest film studio in the world, had already produced close to three thousand films, but none of Universal's films had grossed as much domestically as E.T.—and none of Universal's films have since. Combining the film's initial release in 1982 with its 1985 and 2002 re-releases, E.T. earned Universal $435,110,554 in the United States. Internationally, it's brought in a whopping $792,910,554. That's a lot of Reese's Pieces.
The Birth of Amblin Entertainment
Also sharing production credit on E.T., perhaps more unofficially than officially, is Amblin Entertainment, the production company founded in 1984 by director Steven Spielberg and his producing partners Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall.
Spielberg and Kennedy both received producer credits on E.T., and the film was the inspiration for the production company's fanciful logo, which features a silhouette of E.T. riding in the basket of Elliott's flying bike. We shudder to think what that iconic logo would've looked like had Amblin been formed on the set of Jaws instead of E.T. Dun-nuh… Dun-nuh…
E.T.: The Ride
In 1990, Universal gave E.T. fans themselves the chance to fly like Elliott and E.T. when they opened E.T. Adventure, an attraction at the Universal Studios Florida theme park in Orlando.
The low-intensity, gondola-style ride features Spielberg asking park guests to hop into a bicycle-themed vehicle helmed by none other than E.T. himself. Their task is to help the alien get back to his home world, which is dying and can only be saved by his famous healing touch. Before setting off on their journeys, each rider must give their name, or perhaps a clever alias, to one of Spielberg's "assistants" (who look eerily similar to ordinary Universal Studios theme park employees).
These names are keyed to an Interplanetary Passport that every rider receives. Then, through the wonders of theme park technology, at the end of the ride, E.T. thanks each rider individually by name, a feat that is entertaining for riders of all ages… and especially entertaining for riders with names that are difficult to pronounce.
Phonetic issues aside, E.T. Adventure was another hit for Universal, and in 1991, Universal Studios Hollywood opened its own E.T. Adventure attraction, with Universal Studios Japan following suit in 2001. Both of these have since closed and been replaced by other attractions, but the original Orlando ride remains.