The movie was written by Melissa Mathison and directed by Steven Spielberg. It won Academy Awards for Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Effects, Visual Effects, Best Music, Original Score and Best Sound. It was also nominated for Best Cinematography (Allen Daviau), Best Director (Steven Spielberg), Best Film Editing, Best Picture and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.
The film is consistently on the Internet Movie Database's list of top 250 films, was #25 on American Film Institute's 100 Years, 100 Movies and #44 on its 100 Years, 100 Thrills, and has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
In 2002 a twentieth anniversary edition was released by Universal Studios. It adds five minutes to the film's run time, and includes special effects scenes that were not included in the original because of technical limitations or budgetary constraints. Other small changes, such as the replacement of all guns in the film with hand-held radio communicators, were made as Spielberg was unhappy with their inclusion in the original cut.
Indian director Satyajit Ray wrote a script entitled "The Alien" in 1967 with many similarities to E.T., and attempted to raise funds for its production in the late 1960's. After a falling out with a prospective producer, he lost interest in the project, and rejected later interest from Hollywood in the script. After E.T.'s release, Ray stated that "ET would not have been possible without my script of The Alien being available throughout America in mimeographed copies." Spielberg claimed to be unaware of Ray's work, stating "I was a kid in high school when his script was circulating in Hollywood" when questioned about it in the press in 1982.