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The original poster artwork commissioned for Steven Spielberg’s 1982 film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial goes under the hammer in Dallas on Oct. 12, where it is expected to fetch upwards of $150,000.
Grey Smith, director of vintage movie posters at Heritage Auctions, often encounters this image, but handling the unique acrylic-on-board by master cinematic artist John Alvin is very different, he says. “It really is a pretty spectacular piece.”
Inspired by Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam fresco, Alvin’s well-known illustration depicts E.T.’s glowing finger touching 10-year-old Elliott’s finger, as they hover among the stars, above the Earth. “Every time my son’s or daughter’s friends would see the painting they’d stand in front of it with their fingers touching in the same way,” recalls TV writer and producer Bob Bendetson, who has owned the painting for the last 13 years.
He purchased it from a Universal Pictures executive. A proposed home redecoration project will soon bump the iconic painting from Bendetson’s office wall, however.
Alvin’s E.T. artwork was used not only for the film’s initial one-sheet movie poster but also for the VHS cover, lobby cards, and all manner of related merch. Alvin, who died in 2008, created memorable poster art for many now-classic films of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, including Blade Runner, Young Frankenstein, The Goonies, Gremlins, and The Lion King.
In the forward to a 2014 published collection of his work, The Art of John Alvin, Jeffrey Katzenberg wrote, “Somehow, John was able to capture the emotion of an entire movie in a single image.”
A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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