Steven Spielberg says it was a “mistake” editing guns out of ‘E.T.’

Steven Spielberg has said that he regrets editing out guns from the 1980s classic film E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.

The science fiction film premiered in 1982, and follows an alien who was left behind on Earth after the rest of his family were chased away by US government vehicles. During his stay, he met a 10-year-old boy who sheltered him and promised to keep him safe until he returned home.

Speaking at the New York Times 100 Summit on Tuesday (April 25) the iconic director made remarks regarding editing a scene to feature federal agents holding walkie-talkies instead of guns when they were chasing the children for the 20th anniversary special edition of the film. .


Spielberg explained why he initially thought removing the weapons was a great idea, but he realised later that it “was a mistake”.

“I never should have done that,” Spielberg said. “E.T. is a product of its era. No film should be revised based on the lenses we now are, either voluntarily, or being forced to peer through.”

He continued: “E.T. was a film that I was sensitive to the fact that the federal agents were approaching kids with firearms exposed and I thought I would change the guns into walkie-talkies. Years went by and I changed my own views.”

Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg CREDIT: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for TCM

Throughout the years, Spielberg has often spoken of how he regretted adjusting the film to conform to more current societal norms.

“I should have never messed with the archives of my own work, and I don’t recommend anyone do that,” Spielberg said during the event. “All our movies are a kind of a signpost of where we were when we made them, what the world was like and what the world was receiving when we got those stories out there. So I really regret having that out there.”


Spielberg is responsible for blockbuster films and franchises – including Indiana Jones, The Goonies, Poltergeist, Saving Private Ryan, Jurassic Park, Jaws and many more.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial grossed $792.9million at the box office, and earned four Oscars, five Saturn Awards and two Golden Globe Awards.

Meanwhile, Spielberg recently said E.T. was a “pretty perfect” movie, in an interview on The Late Late Show With Steven Colbert. 

“Sometimes I see things that I had intended to do that I didn’t do, and sometimes I see things that would have been a better idea than what I’m now seeing all these years later – but for the most part, E.T. is a pretty perfect movie.”

Earlier this week, Spielberg also shared his reaction after seeing Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny for the first time.

The upcoming fifth instalment is the first entry in the franchise not directed by Spielberg, who instead serves as an executive producer. James Mangold, who previously helmed Logan and Ford v Ferrari, takes up the role of director on the sequel.