The original 1977 theatrical edit of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters Of The Third will be available for the first time in nearly fifteen years with the release of the Close Encounters Of The Third Kind: 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition on DVD and Blu-ray disc.
Video Business is reporting that the release will contain three different edits of the classic science-fiction film- the original 1977 edit, the 1980 ”Special Edition” version which supplanted the original version in almost all subsequent theatrical and home video releases and the more recent 1998 ”Director’s Cut.”
When originally released in November 1977, Spielberg expressed some unhappiness with the result as scheduling and budgetary problems caused him to abandon several scripted scenes. For the 1980 theatrical reissue, the director managed to persuade Columbia Pictures to allow him to shoot additional material and re-edit the film. The studio agreed, giving him a budget of $1.5 million, a seven week shooting schedule and the caveat that he must show some of the inside of the alien mothership. Once the ”Special Edition” was released, a majority of the prints struck in 1977 were destroyed, with the studio only holding the few remaining in their vault.
The original theatrical version briefly surfaced in 1992 as part of a laserdisc release containing both edits of the film from specialty label Criterion.
In 1998, Spielberg returned to the editing suite again with the movie, creating a definitive ”Director’s Cut” edition for VHS and laser disc. Chief among the changes made was the removal of the scenes inside the mothership that had been a condition of doing the 1980 ”Special Edition” edit. This edition was latter issued on DVD.
Also included in the 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition DVD will be an interview with Spielberg and a retrospective documentary. Additionally, the Blu-ray release will include the 1977 featurette “Watch The Skies,” a new storyboard-to-scene comparison and the original theatrical trailer.
The disc is scheduled to hit store shelves on November 13, 2007.