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Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois • 36

Chicago Tribunei
Chicago, Illinois
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CN Chicago Tribune, Friday, July 19, 1985. Section 7 3 CdDimniffig 'tailing TTte irsttxiiiirim wt. ILTc Also coming: New bonanza at box office By John M. Wilson Bp, coming home. he's hpflriina 1 And straight for the bank.

There's a stop alone if i iHMil" Ml 1 1 campaign Roginski would not reveal the budget includes a new trailer "Experience it again for the first TV spots "A story. all poster "The movie that touched the and new publicity stills and press kits. Universal's print department has been screening existing prints, culling those that fail Spielberg's legendary high standards; out of 1,400, only 325 survived inspection, Roginski said. "No print will go out that is not in mint quality condition," he promised. Director Spielberg along with co-producer Kathleen Kennedy and screenwriter Melissa Mathison created a character in E.T.

that seems to rest in the public consciousness somewhere between Mickey Mouse and Mother Teresa. But has crass exploitation turned him into a money-gobbling monster? Has success spoiled E.T.? In August, 1982, Spielberg told Newsweek magazine that he would limit the number of E.T. merchandising products to 30. In' fact, it ended up at about 55 licenses that spawned more than 200 different E.T. items from dolls to sheets to women's underwear.

MCA' Stanley Newman, vice-president, said, "We tried to hold the number down, but the E.T. craze compelled us to license in more fields than we would have liked. Every licensee tried to add more products', everybody wanted a piece of the pie. The demand was so incrediblewe did not license half what we could have." And to not license in certain fields, he added, would have left them wide open to counterfeiters. Literally counting on the public's love of E.T., MCA-Uni-versal squeezed merchandisers for what may be all-time high, percentages.

"Some contracts were IS percent, some were less," Newman conceded. "We licensed it at the highest going ml Aw, shucks. The Earthing (Drew Barrymore and the extraterrestrial find a special way to communicate in "EX" the way in more than 1,000 theaters nationwide beginning this weekend, when the public gets its first look at "E.T The Extraterrestrial" since its 1982-83 one-year run. Then the dollars start beaming to his bulging account yes, E.T.'s a him, according to a novelization of the script. Spokespersons for Universal Pictures and Steven Spielberg's Amblin' Entertainment are unwilling to project how many dollars the imminent reissue will ring upas if such crassness might tarnish the space traveler's image.

But the second coming of "E.T." should add significantly to more than $619 million in worldwide box office receipts Universal's figure, making it the most successful movie of all time ahead of "Star Wars," which has grossed about $530 million worldwide, according to LucasGlm, the producer. "I think this film is one of the most eagerly awaited of the summer," said Ed Roginski, Universal's senior vice-president and manager of marketing. "When you think about what means to people, the chance to see it again after three years is just incredible." Roginski likened the "E.T." reissue to those of "Gone With the Wind" and "Star "It is being treated as though it's a major summer release." Working from an attendanceticket price formula, studio marketing executives figure that about 220 million admissions have previously been sold around the world worth $359.7 million in the U.S. and Canada and $260 million elsewhere. E.T.

the movie from public viewing only a year after its June 11, 1982, premiere, a strategy marketing executives say was preplanned. Spielberg clearly gambled box office momentum and immediate grosses for a bigger payoff later. He whetted the world's appetite by withholding the film for two years no cable or network sale, no videocasset-tes making the reissue a can't-miss proposition. For the new campaign, little tampering has been done with the logo: two fingers still touch above the earth, but now they are in the form of twinkling constellations. According to Roginski, "We wanted a variation of the original.

I can't think of an icon or image that's so much a part of the moviegoer's consciousness. Re-experiencing the film has been the core idea in everything we've done." The new advertisingpromotion Toys Us, the country's largest toy store chain 198 outlets, will not release sales figures, but a spokeswoman said, "We still have many E.T. toys in our stores. It's no longer a craze, but people are still buying." Toys Us foreign stores also will still be well stocked when "E.T." lands again in the rest of the world in about a year. There really are two sides to the E.T.

phenomenon. On the one hand, you've got a uniquely inspiring chracter whose life-giving finger has touched the hearts of children and adults worldwide see accompanying, article on E.T.'s charitable ac-v tivities. On the other, you have E.T. the Hollywood mogul, whose digit glows with the Midas touch and who has left few lucrative markets unfinger-" ed. Spielberg and company pulled merchandise, handled by Universal's Merchandising Corporation of America MCA, added countless millions MCA won't tell how much with more to come during the movie's upcoming invasion.

What to watch for? A new E.T. novel by William Kotzwink-le, "E.T.: The Book of the Green Planet," is currently on the New York Times paperback bestseller list, with more than a million copies sold. Twelve of the original 20 E.T. titles for children from coloring books to math guides are being reissued with a new promotion campaign to take advantage of the movie's re-release. E.T.

ice cream has melted but kiddies still can implore their parents to buy chocolate-flavored E.T. -cereal from General Mills. And a number of the 200 or so E.T. merchandising items remain on the shelves. rate at tne time, we got percent in certain fields, the norm was probably 8 to 1.0 percent.

It was the most desirable license around at the time. Peo-Continued on page 10 Commercial, yes, but E.T. and his creators are hailed for having heart hen E.T. isn't counting his money, he takes time to help the children who adore him. enthralled with E.T.

even though he had never seen the movie. In a wheelchair and suffering from a fatal degenerative muscle disease, the Phoenix youngster required someone close by with special equipment to periodically clear his throat's airway. Seeing the. movie had been impossible, so he collected every E.T. product he could afford.

His parents contacted Make-A-Wish Foundation in Phoenix, which provides wishes for children who will not live to be 18 Frankie is alive but still in declining health. A volunteer learned from Universal Pictures that no video-cassettes of "E.T." had ever been made and that film prints were under tight security. But Steven Spielberg and co-producer Kathleen Kennedy ordered a print flown under guard to Phoenix, where Dan Harkina made his theater available to Frankie and 50 family members and pals. The marquee read, "Welcome Frankie and Friends" and the snack bar was wide open and free. "It was probably one of our most successful wishes," said a Make-A-Wish volunteer who was there.

Megan Mall, a 4-year-old suffering from brain cancer last year in Claremore, was also a big fan of E.T., but she had missed the movie and her doctors said she probably would not live longer than two weeks. Her parents sought help from the Tulsa-based Brass Ring Society, whose seven chapters fulfill 50-100' dreams of dying children each -year. Universal shipped a cop of the film to a local theater and Megan was able to attend with about 15 family members and friends and a number of Brass Ring Society volunteers. Long subjected to injections, Megan was especially rapt during the medical tent sequence of the movie, when E.T. is, the prisoner of doctors.

"Every time he got poked with a needle, you could see Megan cringe," recalled Brass Ring founder Ray Esposi-to. "She was living and dying with E.T. When he died, she was very quiet and still frankly, I was getting worried about her. And when he woke up and smiled, she started to come to life. When the bicycle took off with him on the handlebars, she cried out, go home! E.T.

go I still get chills remembering it." Two days later, Spielberg sent autographed photos, E.T. toys and an E.T. record album, which "she played every day, over and over. She really got joy out of her adventures with E.T." Not quite 10 weeks later almost two months longer than doctors had expected her to live she died. Said Esposito: "I really believe E.T.

gave her extra life." MttMlltlllllSilirtlflMI) You're already seeing him in new television spots for the Special Olympics the first time he has appeared on screen since the theatrical run of "E.T." ended nearly two years ago. Earlier this year, he was featured on a National Library Week poster from the National Library Association, reading in an easy chair under the slogan, "E.T. Reads at Home." He's also the poster boy for the National PTA in a program to get more children to use their car seat belts, shown buckling up under the words, "Get home safely!" But nowhere has E.T. had more poignant impact than with terminally ill children unable to get to theaters when "E.T." was still showing. In 1984, Frankie Urquijo, then 9, was.

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