One of the greatest science fiction movies of all time is coming back for an encore on its 40th birthday.
Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind will return to theaters for a week-long engagement starting on September 1, according to Deadline (the movie was actually released on November 16, 1977).
The news was first hinted at with this mysterious "This Means Something" teaser, named after the line uttered by Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) in the movie as he sculpts his mashed potatoes to resemble Devil's Tower:
That teaser, based on a famous sequence early in the film and interspersed with glimpses of other scenes, led to an equally mysterious website, We Are Still Not Alone, which invites readers to sign up for "updates on UFO sightings" but is also clearly identified as a Sony Pictures promotional site. Both the clip and the site were posted on Monday (July 3) to tie into World UFO Day.
What is not clear is which version of the movie will be re-released. There are three: the original 135-minute theatrical version, a 132-minute "Special Edition" and a 137-minute "Collector's Edition" cut, which Spielberg says is his preferred version.
The director is not a huge fan of either the original cut or the Special Edition, so it seems likely that the Collector's Edition, which he calls his definitive version, is the one that would get reissued (I would take either the original or the Collector's Edition; the Special Edition -- for which Columbia Pictures wrongly insisted that Spielberg include a look inside the alien mothership -- I could do without).
The Collector's Edition was created primarily for home video release and given only a very limited theatrical run in 1999, so now would be a chance for it to reach a wider audience (and probably promote sales of a new Blu-ray reissue as well).
For fans of this masterpiece -- one of Spielberg's best films, and regularly listed as one of the top sci-fi movies of all time -- seeing a fresh new theatrical print on the big screen will be a terrific way to celebrate the movie's 40th anniversary.
And for new viewers as well as fans, Close Encounters' unbridled optimism, innocence and genuine sense of awe and wonder -- qualities it feels like we need more of in real life as well as the movies these days -- will hopefully come across as powerfully and emotionally as they did four decades ago.