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M&M’S v REESE’S PIECES

 

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, June 8, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you think comic book-style fantasies and sequels dominating the American-movie box office is a 21st century phenomenon, here’s a 36-year-old column to dispel that notion. And if product placement in movies bugs you, blame Steven Spielberg; ‘E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial’ may not have invented the commercial enterprise of subtly placing brand-name items on the big screen but it most certainly boosted the concept into the public consciousness. Headlined ‘Prediction: E.T. will take top spot,’ this one was published in the Deseret News on July 23, 1982. Oh, and back then I wasn’t above making very bad puns, as the last paragraph will attest; don’t know that I’d be brave (or foolhardy) enough to do that today.

Variety is tentatively predicting that Steven Spielberg’s “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” will overtake “Star Wars” as the top moneymaking movie of all time. That would give the director three movies in the top 10, along with “Jaws” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” (“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” only made it to number 11.)

The Hollywood trade paper said “E.T.” is the first film to gross $100 million in its first month, and while the film is now playing in some 1,300 theaters, the record is significant since the picture started out six weeks ago in only 600 theaters.

This has been a bonanza summer for a lot of theater operators and filmmakers, with the top five films of the past few weeks (“E.T.,” “Firefox,” “Rocky III,” “Blade Runner” and “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”) earning more money than any of the films released at this time last year.

     

Robert MacNaughton, left, Henry Thomas and E.T. peruse their Halloween candy in "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial."

But a number of pictures have already bombed out, too. “The Thing,” which was thought to be a sure thing, turned out to be nobody’s thing. “Megaforce” was a megaflop. And “Author! Author!” has been written off, with only so-so business around the country.

It’s still too early to know how “Tron” will fare overall, but early returns aren’t bad, bolstered by rave reviews from Chicago movie critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel on PBS’ “Sneak Previews” last week.

Speaking of Ebert & Siskel, when they reviewed "E.T." a few weeks ago they mentioned that the little creature acquires a taste for M&Ms but your sharp-eyed local critic (on his second viewing, of course) noticed that those candies aren’t M&Ms at all. They’re Reese’s Pieces!

A minor detail perhaps but as my colleague Jerry Johnston (our book editor and weekly columnist) points out, we can at least rest assured that little E.T.’s diet was a bit more nourishing, since Reese’s Pieces have peanut butter inside each tiny morsel.

     

And now Time Magazine, in its July 26 issue, confirms that the makers of Reese’s Pieces, Hershey Foods Corp., did supply Spielberg with the candy. It seems Mars, Inc., which makes M&Ms, turned Spielberg down.

The executive who made that decision was once one of the candy industry’s Three Musketeers, but now he’s the subject of Snickers. It’s the old story; he began as a Baby Ruth and now has sunk to spending all his time at the Hershey bar.

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.