E.T. Returns In XFinity Ad

A sequel to E.T. The Extraterrestrial of sorts, premiered yesterday.

Yesterday during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade XFinity, the cable and Internet company that also owns Universal Studios, debuted a new commercial that basically amounts to a sequel to E.T, The Extra Terrestrial:

Adweek has some details:

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was one of the highest-grossing films ever made, but director Steven Spielberg always resisted making a followup to his 1982 film about an alien left behind on earth who befriends a young boy and attempts to “phone home.”

However, E.T. and Elliott have finally reunited 37 years later—not for a sequel, but for an Xfinity spot about how technology brings people together.

In the ad, which debuted Thursday morning during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC, E.T. returns to earth 37 years later to reunite with Elliott—once again played by Henry Thomas—who now has his own family, with kids who are the same age as he and his siblings were during the movie.

Goodby Silverstein & Partners made the spot, which recreates many of the film’s iconic moments, including the bicycle ride in the sky and E.T.’s first interactions with startled children.


The ad is part of a larger initiative surrounding E.T. and parent company Comcast, which owns NBC, Universal Pictures (the studio that made the film) and Xfinity.

The film will air on NBCU cable network Syfy today and is available on demand for Xfinity TV subscribers. And Xfinity subscribers with X1 can say “E.T. phone home” into their voice remotes for what the company called “an E.T.-themed destination.”

“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,” said Thomas in a statement.

The two-minute ad that aired on NBC is at the Adweek link. Meanwhile, here’s the full-length version of the video:

The father in the video is, of course, Henry Thomas, who played Elliot in the original movie.

Pretty cool even for a commercial.

H/T: Io9

FILED UNDER: Entertainment, Popular Culture, Science & Technology, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Kathy says:

    I never understood what people saw in that movie. Take away the few words the creature says, and the “phone home” bit, and you can write pretty much the same story with a lost lion cub.

    The same goes for another Spielberg film, Close Encounters. I describe it as “A phenomenally LARGE buildup, itty-bitty payoff.” (yes, I know Contact was the same).

  2. al Ameda says:

    [I never understood what people saw in that movie. Take away the few words the creature says, and the “phone home” bit, and you can write pretty much the same story with a lost lion cub.]
    I couldn’t agree more.
    I think Spielberg take a ham-handed approach to most of his movies – he just can’t resist. Even Schindler’s List, as serious a story as it is/was, Spielberg couldn’t resist going for the cheap emotional tug to close the movie.

    I should know better by now but I somehow end up seeing his movies against my better judgment.

  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    It’s a great movie. The ad ensures that I will always think of Xfinity with contempt.

  4. Sleeping Dog says:

    Hmmm, no.

    Was out voted 2-1 and was forced to watch some of the Macy’s parade. The recitations of the sponsors for each float or band was vomit inducing. It was worse than Nascar, where you only need to hear the winner prattle on.

  5. de stijl says:

    Guy who plays Elliot got busted for DUI two weeks ago.

  6. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: “Close Encounters” is about just how far Richard Dreyfus will go to abandon his family. Also, the climactic scene at the end is basically “aliens arrive, and we play dueling banjos with them”.

    I love it.

  7. de stijl says:


    I like your take. Dreyfus was sorta screw my familial duties from the get go.

    He wanted more,or a different life. Nothing wrong with that, but please figure that out before you beget three kids, or even one.

    Dreyfus’ character was an abandoning father obsessed with escape.

    Any curious human could have gone with them. That it was Dreyfus’ character was a directorial choice.

  8. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: @al Ameda: For me, both movies are important entirely for the music. John Williams music has the same expansive post-Romantic thing going on that music by Debussy, Bartok, Stravinski, Shostakovich, and other composers whose music moved me while I was studying them in college does. Great sounds. Very emotive.

    The movies themselves? The word “dreck” comes to mind. I went to see Close Encounters on the recommendation of a friend. Big mistake. E.T. I passed on. Saw the previews, realized that I got it and didn’t care.

    ETA: In a past life, I played the overture scores for Close, E.T., Star Wars, and Superman in a significant community orchestra’s (paid professionals in most positions) summer pops series concerts for several seasons. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to fame–replacing someone who needed to leave during the summer in order to get paid somewhere else.

  9. de stijl says:


    Arrival seems to be a direct counterpoint to Close Encounters.

    A woman. A professional. Seemingingly childless.

    An analogue to the French music do doo dooo guy in CE. There to do a job.

    But the encounter isn’t explorer-type meets aliens and gets on the ship.

    It’s how can we possibly interact with an entity that we share nothing with. Figuring out the language. As an ex-liguistics student, it resonated in the attempt.

    The concept was great. The execution mostly worked for the first two-thirds.

    Time is circular worked for a bit until it didn’t. That Adams did have a child and then didn’t both.

    It was the anti-Close Encounters. They are not cuddly pets nor annihilators.

  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    @de stijl: @Just nutha ignint cracker: @Gustopher:
    Flip side of Daddy issues: Daddy abandons family to pursue obsession, Daddy dies and is replaced by alien/science guy with keys.

  11. de stijl says:

    Spielberg is very good at what he is good at. It’s a quite good take.

    It’s not the only take, though.

  12. Kathy says:


    I never though about it that way.

    Having done so, I don’t really care. Sorry.

    Ebert said of A.I., another Spielberg work, that after the mother abandons David, the focus should have been on her and how she deals with the consequences of her actions. In Close Encounters, the focus stays on Dreyfus, and I don’t recall he gives his family much thought after he leaves.

  13. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Daddy is obsessed and abandons kids is fairly creepy in Clouse Encounters.

    Later, suckers! Sorry you developed an attachment to me, because I’m totally going to abandon you. Get on a ship and fly away forever.

    Daddy isn’t replaced. The whole family is subsequently ignored. Dude’s journey is front and center.

    I don’t want an abject jack hole representing humanity to the visitors.

    If aliens introduced themselves now and Trump was our intermediary, I would be so embarrassed.

  14. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    Arrival seems to be a direct counterpoint to Close Encounters.

    You know what bothered me? It seemed undecided between being a soft science fiction story, and a hard science fiction story.

    The soft part is the focus on how to communicate with beings we have little grounds to communicate with, and that trick of having to piece all of the pieces held by different human groups together.

    The hard part is that time is circular or non-linear or Bearimy or whatever.

    It also wasn’t very subtle in presenting the future as the past. At first I thought Amy Adams was a single mother, but then the lack of any photos, reminders, or mention of her daughter kind of gave the game away.

  15. DrDaveT says:

    @de stijl:

    It’s how can we possibly interact with an entity that we share nothing with. Figuring out the language. As an ex-liguistics student, it resonated in the attempt.

    Have you read the original story (“Story of Your Life”) by Ted Chiang that it’s based on? Almost anything by Chiang is awesome, this one included. The collection it’s in is called (of course) “Stories of Your Life, and Others”

  16. de stijl says:

    Who would have predicted this discussion from that initial headline?

  17. de stijl says:


    Arrival was good, and disappointing, but cool. I’d argue mostly cool in that the aliens showed up to just communicate. That is not the dominant tropes.

    It lined up a lot of interesting elements and questions, and just whooshed by most of it. Agree.

    I did like it. It is an almost serious movie. It faltered third act. It didn’t treat linguistics as a magical way to translate alien communication at first until it did later.

    IMO, a better concept than Close Encounters.

  18. de stijl says:


    I will now.

  19. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: Arrival was great. And I don’t see the conflict between hard science fiction and soft science fiction that you do — but there were three big concepts: understanding the language without common reference points, the non-linear time, and language modifying the consciousness to the point where it can perceive the nonlinear time.

    The first two seemed very hard science fiction to me, and the third was allegorical but true — language does shape what we perceive, in our day to day lives, and limits the thoughts we can have. On that third, just look an Guarneri and how words don’t have the same meaning for him, and how there are whole thoughts he is incapable of thinking as a result.

    The stuff with the kid was just window dressing.

    And Close Encounters was probably a better movie when it came out. It set down a lot of the elements of a story that has been done better later.

  20. Gustopher says:

    But I also like the George Clooney “Solaris” so my tastes are suspect.

  21. de stijl says:


    A very serious person professing love. Who am I to protest? Let’s watch this play out.

  22. de stijl says:


    Have you seen the original? The Russian version?

    Solaris contains multitudes.

  23. de stijl says:

    Initiate time loop.

    Who would have predicted this discussion…

    Close time loop.

  24. Michael Reynolds says:

    @de stijl:
    No, I meant daddy is replaced in ET. First by ET, then by Mr. Keys.

  25. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Is there even any daddy figure in E.T.?

  26. de stijl says:

    I see E.T. as a sibling.

  27. de stijl says:

    When E.T popped out and Drew Barrymore freaked out, Spielberg has said he intentionally did not tell her it was coming. He wanted an honest reaction.

    I see his desire for the movie, but dick move.

  28. EddieInCA says:

    @de stijl:

    Meh… We do it all the time. Well, directors do it all the time. Not me personally. Anything, within reason, that you can do to get an honest reaction while making a film is good. I’ve saw a Director, while shooting a horror movie have background actors do a movement when they’re not supposed to just to have the actor’s honestly surprised at something.

    You can’t fake an honest reaction, no matter how hard you try. Trying to “act suddenly frightened” will always be less interesting visually than “reacting while actually suddenly frightened.”

  29. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: The original is very, very long. I’ve seen it, but mostly I remember long establishing shots of streams.

    The version with Clooney chops it down to a manageable 1:45 or so. And contains the line “I could tell you what’s happening, but it wouldn’t really tell you what’s happening, you know?”

    The pilot of Deep Space 9 chops it down to a 20 minute subplot. It needed a little more than that.

    I want a Solaris TV show, with a structure based on Fantasy Island. Wealthy tourists come to meet their dead loved ones, leave with either a sense of closure, or horror, or disappointment. Dr. Kelvin is the caretaker, and every episode his wife kills herself.

  30. de stijl says:


    That would be dope as shit.

    Totally down for Solaris as episodic TV
    that resets every week. Maybe AMC. Right after Lodge 49.

    Good lord, that comment made me laugh hard.

  31. de stijl says:


    But Drew was a wee little one…

    (I suck at properly gauging kids’ ages. [Googles].)

    She was 7. Total dick move by Spielberg!

    No wonder she went to rehab when she was 13.

  32. de stijl says:


    Ennui and boring familial reconnection.
    Boo! BORING!

    I would want full gonzo Nic Cage as Mr. Rourke.

    Familial connections go sideways. Insert horror elements. AHS + Fantasy Island.

    Michael Pena as the little dude. Tiny Michael Pena.

    It would be epic.

  33. de stijl says:

    Exposition sucks.

    The audience you want is the one who is able to cope with the lack of exposition.

    Drop us in. En media res. Don’t explain crap.

    If you’ve done your job, we will get the point eventually. You should focus.

    Now giving game dev advice. I am past my expertice.

  34. DrDaveT says:

    @de stijl:

    The audience you want is the one who is able to cope with the lack of exposition.

    You might really like the fantasy series by Graydon Saunders that starts with The March North

  35. Michael Reynolds says:

    Sigh. OK, Elliot has lost his father. He already has siblings, what he does not have is a father. There is a hole in his life, in his family. Along comes an alien with a healing touch whose name just happens to mirror his own. ET – Elliot. He’s funny, he’s fascinating, he’s also in some ways dependent. IOW, ET needs Elliot, and Elliot needs ET, to such an extent that ET’s emotional deprivation makes Elliot sick as they mirror each other’s emotions.

    In order to survive Elliot has to let go. You know, the way he has not yet been able to do with his father? But even as he accepts the loss of ET, guess what? There’s Key Man standing beside mom. Father replaced.

    Spielberg has father issues. Dennis Weaver in Duel. Roy Scheider in Jaws. Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters. Connery in the third Indiana Jones. Tom Hanks in Private Ryan. Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds.

    Every creative has ‘tells,’ things they tend to repeat that they may not even be aware of but which reveal the mind behind the art.

  36. Michael Reynolds says:

    @de stijl:
    Exposition is vital in creating character. If we don’t know the character’s past, we don’t know the character. (One of the challenges of writing YA – very brief backstories.) The trick is to conceal your hand, to sneak the exposition past the viewer/reader, so they get it without it being shoved in their faces. Show don’t tell, and all that.

    One of the reasons so many male writers can’t write female characters is that they can’t get a grip on the backstory, they don’t get that she’ll have a backstory they themselves never experienced. So their female characters are women as experienced by themselves, generally post puberty.

    Can Spielberg write female characters? Nope. Most men can’t, even brilliant men.

  37. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    Drop us in. En media res. Don’t explain crap.

    Everything starts in the middle. If it didn’t, you’d require a hell of a lot more explanation about the Big Bang, stellar evolution, element synthesis, planet formation, chemical evolution, biological evolution, and history, and that would just be the setup 🙂

    Now, suppose you read this line:

    “My name is Golden. I am a human being.”

    Don’t you want to know why she/he feels it necessary to state they are a human being? Bam! You have license to expose 🙂

  38. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I never would have called Dennis Weaver as a dad figure in Duel.

    That’s a very interesting take.

    I haven’t been sighed at in a long time. Perhaps I deserved it.

    Duel was very good.

    Informed Hitcher (1986). The Rutger Hauer version.

  39. de stijl says:

    Fury Road.

    Max shows up. Wants water and transpo.

    Furiousa and the harem have it.

    They are going to a lost Utopia.

    The lone War Boy (Hoult killed it).

    Max gives Furiousa the rifle because she is better.

    Everybody has a back story. Never explained.

    Two hour chase scene.

    Best film of the teens.

  40. Michael Reynolds says:

    @de stijl:
    You’re thinking of idealized father figures. Spielberg’s fathers are often inadequate, or distant, or dead. They are trying to be good fathers but not necessarily succeeding.

    I loved Fury Road, but it’s just one long chase scene. So no, we don’t need character-building in a two hour chase scene because the stunts are the stars. The human characters exist to drive the cars.

  41. de stijl says:


    About this ebook states:

    Egalitarian heroic fantasy. Presumptive female agency, battle sheep, and bad, bad odds.

    I’m so in.

  42. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl:

    Ennui and boring familial reconnection.
    Boo! BORING!

    There would be some of that — I would want one happy story in most episodes — but also people who get the alien visitor as an estranged family member with all of the estrangement, or the visitor who is someone they weren’t expecting and did not want, or the married couple where the husband gets to see his mother again while there is also a visitor of how the wife perceives the husband, and the sad man who gets no visitor at all.

    And then there’s the question of what happens to the alien visitors when the tourists leave. So not everything resets.

    And Dr. Kelvin, with a graveyard of his wife, stretching on for acres… His numbing grief and his inability to let go serving as a backdrop to any moments of happiness.

  43. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    In order to survive Elliot has to let go. You know, the way he has not yet been able to do with his father? But even as he accepts the loss of ET, guess what? There’s Key Man standing beside mom. Father replaced.

    I assume Key Man lasts about as long as ET does in Elliot’s life, and this is all about him learning to like the various men in his life, but not get too attached.

  44. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Dude! You sighed at me! That’s provocative.

    Not sure I totally deserved that.

    Your over-arching theory has as much weight as mine. Which is none.

    I do get your lost dad in Spielberg movies theory. I still see E.T. as a sibling.

    The Dennis Weaver as dad made me reevaluate Duel.

    Fury Road is the movie of the teens. Fight me. Yes, It’s a two hour chase scene. A glorious almost fully practical effects two hour chase scene.

    Miller ignored his previous troika and just went and made a new movie.

    Explained jack shit nothing. How is Max here? Why does he have the old car which canonically was exploded?

    I don’t care. Miller is back. Cars flip. War boys get the business. Bulletchasers or whatever, I get it.

  45. de stijl says:



    Call me Ishmael.

    My name is …*

    We get there eventually in a well told story.

    Massive exposition drop in Act 1 is disheartening.

    Play it out. Tease us. Or don’t explain at all. This isn’t an Adam Sandler movie. You don’t need to push the premise.

    We will figure it out or not. Argue about it over drinks later.

    * not an endorsement of The Real Slim Shady

  46. de stijl says:


    I like the cut of your jib.

    You for story runner.

    Nic Cage as Mr. Rourke, obviously.

    CG tiny Michael Pena in a white suit as … what’s his name. Person who provides forshadowing to the new guests this week. He’s so tiny!

    I demand a producer’s credit and a cut.

  47. de stijl says:


    Long establishing shots of streams and grass?

    What, you hate Terrence Mallick now?

  48. DrDaveT says:

    @de stijl:

    Egalitarian heroic fantasy. Presumptive female agency, battle sheep, and bad, bad odds.

    I’m so in.

    Cool! I hope you love them as much as I have. Four books so far, fifth one due out maybe early next year. That’s as much as I dare say for risk of spoilers.

  49. DrDaveT says:

    @de stijl:

    Massive exposition drop in Act 1 is disheartening.

    For your sanity’s sake, don’t ever read anything by David Weber.

  50. Jc says:

    @Kathy: I think it is there are few films where “intelligent life” actually does not come here to destroy us, repopulate us, eat us, enslave us, etc…like WE think…it shows a higher being showing love and curiosity. Which hopefully ETs will show when they come here…

  51. Kathy says:


    Movies like Close Encounters, ET, and Arrival could be summed up as: friendly aliens show up, make contact, and nothing happens.

    You’d think contact with a more advanced civilization would change the world radically, as happened in the Americas in the XV and XVI Centuries.

  52. Michael Reynolds says:

    They cut before all that. So did we with ANIMORPHS. Which makes me consider writing a spin-off. I generally dislike revisiting things I’ve finished, although I did do a three book spin-off of GONE. Hmm. CHILDHOOD’S END looked at the after-effects, some others. But it’s interesting how few dystopic novels/TV series/movies use an alien invasion as the predicate.

  53. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    CHILDHOOD’S END looked at the after-effects

    Kind of. The original story ended when the Overlord allows the UN Secretary general to glimpse a portion of himself. “We’ve had our failures.” Good ending. The novel that grew out of it was plain weird, when Clarke was besotted with paranormal powers.

    There’s a work called “Wormwood,” I forget the author, that deals with an alien takeover of Earth, but only looks at things after the conquest, in a series of vignettes rather unconnected with each other. it’s rather odd. There are several species of aliens, and the dominant one is mostly absent from Earth. It might be a god idea to revisit it. I recall not liking it very much.