Masterpiece ‘CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND’ returns to theaters – and so should you!


Richard Dreyfuss in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. Courtesy of Sony Pictures.

Courtney Howard // Film Critic

If you live in a metropolitan area, there’s a good chance you’ve attended a revival screening before. In LA alone, we’ve got a small handful of revival movie houses (like the Aero and the New Beverly) populating our landscape, gifting us with a memorable, throwback movie-going experience. New York, Chicago and Austin also have their own special theaters that cater to the quintessential cinephile.

However, if you’re not lucky enough to live in a big city, getting your fix of that nostalgia-driven screening experience can be hit or miss. Though Fathom Events has been dependable, bringing “refurbished” anniversary prints to a wider audience in more remote places, there’s nothing like a good nationwide studio re-release of a timeless classic to stoke memories of a bygone era. And now it’s the perfect time for Sony’s wide re-release of one of the greatest films of all time, writer-director Steven Spielberg’s CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.

Beginning on September 1, this timeless sci-fi adventure returns to your local cineplex for an exclusive one week engagement to herald its 40th anniversary. Here’s some of the details on what your peepers will be feasting on:

The director’s cut has been restored and remastered in 4K, and will be presented with exclusive behind the scenes footage, as well as modern reflections on the film that continues to remind us that ‘we are not alone.’

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS was originally released in mid-November of 1977 before being widely released the following month. Little did anyone know it was going to change the face of movie history. Made for $20 million, it went on to gross $300 million worldwide. Thirty years later, it was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress.

The mashed potatoes sequence alone, this one right here:

… has inspired countless spoofs in our pop culture zeitgeist, from UHF…


Last weekend, I saw MOONRAKER for the first time at the New Beverly and you better believe the keypad’s sound sequence that accesses the villain’s laboratory (the same five tones utilized in CLOSE) got a hearty chuckle still! Those John Williams penned notes have also made an appearance on THAT 70’s SHOW.

The epic sci-fi adventure doesn’t just have its fingers in pop-culture parody either. It’s widely held up as a paragon of storytelling and critically acclaimed as a masterpiece. The themes expressed are staggeringly prescient for today’s times. Today’s filmmakers have grown up with this film as their muse, and with this re-release, it’s set to inspire a whole new generation of artists. Basically, it’s integral viewing on the big screen for anyone with eyeballs – especially now that it’s been restored in eye-popping 4K.

Seek it out! You don’t even have to build a movie theater replica out of mashed pots to know this means something.


About author

Courtney Howard

Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, CCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.