As if major companies weren’t plundering our childhood nostalgia enough these days, telecom conglomerate Comcast has released a sequel to Steven Spielberg’s cult film in the form of a longform advertisement promoting its cable service Xfinity.
The 1982 film — whose cast included Henry Thomas, Pat Walsh, Dee Wallace and Drew Barrymore — was an instant blockbuster upon release, flying past Star Wars to claim the crown of highest-grossing film of all time. (It would hold that record until 1993 when another Spielberg film, Jurassic Park, knocked it off its throne.)
Its 2019 revival as a four-minute marketing bid from Comcast, which owns the movie studio that distributed the film 37 years ago, shows E.T. returning to Earth to see his friend Elliott, who is now a grown man with a family. The sort-of-ad-sort-of-film premiered Thursday during the annual broadcast of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Comcast’s NBC.
“The audience is going to get everything they want out of a sequel without the messy bits that could destroy the beauty of the original and the special place it has in people’s minds and hearts,” Thomas, who reprised his role as Elliot for the 2019 advertisement, said in a statement provided by Comcast. The video is slated to run in the U.S. and around the globe through January 5th.
Ads that capitalize on companies’ decades-old intellectual property are becoming increasingly common; earlier this year, for example, Joe Pesci partook in a meta Google ad to watch the company’s viral Home Alone ad for the Super Bowl. And that’s not to mention the dozens of non-ad films and television shows that major players like Disney are pushing out in a bid to capture audiences’ loyalty in an ultra-competitive streaming environment. While Comcast’s E.T. ad tries to coax viewers to “Reconnect for the holidays,” per an on-screen message, the company’s motivations can be traced back to its steadily slipping subscriber base, which has fallen 0.9% in the last quarter.