When you woke up this morning, we bet you didn’t expect to see an official E.T. sequel—but that’s kind of what’s happened, just in a slightly unconventional, very commercial way.
io9 is exclusively premiering the online version of a completely out of left field Xfinity commercial called “A Holiday Reunion.” It aired this morning during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and that “reunion” just so happens to be between actor Henry Thomas and E.T., the stars of the legendary 1982 Steven Spielberg film, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
Xfinity, if you are scratching your head for the connection here, is the digital cable, internet, phone, etc. provider owned by Comcast. Comcast owns NBC, which aired the parade. It also owns Universal Pictures, which owns E.T. So, basically what you’re looking at is major corporation dipping into a considerable bag of tricks labeled “Nostalgic Intellectual Property” and throwing Super Bowl commercial money at it.
Either way, it worked. The spot is an absolute delight. (Though be forewarned, if you’re allergic to heavily produced, feel-good, holiday commercials, you may want to run now.) A shortened, two-minute version aired on TV but you can watch the full, extended short below.
“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,” Thomas said in a press release provided to io9. “It’s really a win-win.”
He’s kind of right. Setting aside the corporate synergy angle for a second, the idea of E.T. coming back to Earth nearly 40 years later, learning about how far we’ve come as a society, and meeting Elliott’s family is basically everything you’d want from an E.T. sequel...if it actually happened...which almost no one would really want because it could never live up to the original. Maybe the existence of this spot shuts the door on that idea, full stop. At least we hope.
“Looking at the storyboards, I could see exactly why Steven [Spielberg] was really behind it,” Thomas added. “Because the integrity of the story isn’t lost in this retelling.”
Back to the corporate synergy bit, to go off the goodwill this spot is likely to garnish, E.T. will be airing on Syfy later this afternoon (you guessed it, another Comcast channel) and be on demand for Xfinity TV customers. All the viewer has to do is say “E.T. Phone Home” into their voice remote. Seriously.
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