If you’ve yet to see a holiday ad this season that has made you cry, the dry spell ends today. With a lethal combination of nostalgia, family and the holidays with a touch of current events, the new Xfininty Comcast ad has all the makings of a sobfest. Throw in John Williams’ iconic score and the chances for dry eyes drops to zero. Say it together now; E.T., phone home.
It’s been 37 years since Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial flew across screens (and the moon) and into movie lovers’ hearts. Now Comcast has reunited the loveable alien and a grown up Elliott, played once again by actor Henry Thomas. In the new short film titled A Holiday Reunion, E.T. lands in Elliott’s backyard, with his two children, who look like a young Elliott and his sister Gertie, originally played by Drew Barrymore, find the alien hiding behind a snowman. Elliott and his wife race to the backyard after hearing their children scream, with Elliott and his long-lost friend reuniting after almost 40 years apart. “You came back,” Elliott says to E.T. At least, we think he did. It’s difficult to hear with the sobs screaming out of us.
E.T. quickly makes himself at home with Elliott’s new family, who teach him about TV on demand and the internet. This is an ad for Comcast, afterall. E.T. eventually reveals to Elliott that he misses his family and later takes a magical bike ride with Elliott’s son and daughter, who deliver him to the mothership.
The ad premiered during Thursday’s broadcast of the Macy’s Day Parade to celebrate American Thanksgiving and has already racked up 2.8 million views on YouTube, where it currently holds the number one position on the Trending list.
Although Spielberg was not involved in the making of the new ad, he did give Comcast his blessing after the company pitched the ad as one centered around connection. Thomas, who was only 10 when the groundbreaking film was shot, said that he felt fans of the original would love the new timeless ad. “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 about the new ad. “Looking at the storyboards, I could see exactly why Steven was really behind it, because the integrity of the story isn’t lost in this retelling.”
After its release in June 1982, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial surpassed Star Wars to become the highest grossing film of all time, earning $792.9 million at the box office. The film with the $10.5 million budget held the record for 11 years until Spielberg’s next massive hit with Jurassic Park in 1993.