Steven Spielberg Says He’ll Never Digitally Alter His Films (Again)
There was a period a couple decades ago where filmmakers went mad with power, going back to edit and “improve” on their movies with digital enhancements. The most infamous example of this is George Lucas’ digitally revamped Star Wars trilogy, which added in, among other things, a scene with a pudding-shaped Jabba the Hutt. Even Steven Spielberg did it with his sci-fi masterpiece E.T. — and he says he’s learned his lesson.
While talking about his new movie Ready Player One, which is almost entirely made of colorful pixels, Spielberg fielded a junket question (via /Film) asking him whether he’d ever go back and try to enhance his movies again.
When E.T. was re-released, I actually digitized five shots where E.T. went from being a puppet to a digital puppet. And I also replaced the gun when the FBI runs up on the van – now they have walkie-talkies. So there’s a really bad version of E.T. where I took my cue from Star Wars and all the digital enhancements of A New Hope that George put in. I went ahead, because the marketing at Universal thought we needed something to get the audience in to see the movie, so I did a few touch-ups in the film.
In those days, social media wasn’t as profound as it is today. But what was just beginning erupted in a loud negative voice about, ‘How could you ruin our favorite childhood film by taking the guns away and putting walkie-talkies in their hands?’, among other things. So I learned a big lesson. That’s the last time I ever decided to mess with the past. What’s done is done, and I’ll never go back into another movie I made, or have control over, to enhance or change it.
As someone who understands the anxiety of always wanting to change something even after you turn it in to make it better, it can be way more calming to just let things go. Plus, Spielberg makes, like, ten movies a year. His old stuff is already classic. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.