Thursday, November 23, 2017

This Day in Pop Culture for November 23

"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" opened in theaters on November 23, 1977.

'Close Encounters of the Third Kind" Opens in Theaters

The Science Fiction film that partially saved Columbia Pictures, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, was released to theaters in a limited number of cities on November 16 and on this day in 1977. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film starred Richard Dreyfuss, Melinda Dillon, Teri Garr, Bob Balaban, Cary Guffey, and Fran├žois Truffaut. Though Spielberg received full credit for writing the story, he was also aided by Paul Schrader, John Hill, David Giler, Hal Barwood, Matthew Robbins, and Jerry Belson. Dreyfuss played Roy Neary, an everyday man living in Indiana, whose life changed when he encountered an UFO. Close Encounters was scheduled to be released during the summer of 1977, but was pushed back because of production problems. Spielberg wanted to release it during the summer of 1978, but the studio needed the film to get out to theater sooner rather than later. Initially, Spielberg told Columbia that he estimated that the film would cost $2.7 million to make. It ended up costing $19.4 million and if the studio had known at the beginning of the project, it never would have been approved since the studio was close to being bankrupted and didn’t have the money. Fortunately for everyone involved, the film made about $300 million worldwide. The film was nominated for numerous awards including eight Academy Awards but ended up only winning one for cinematography. After the success of the film, Spielberg went back to Columbia asking to make a director’s cut of the film. They agreed on the condition that he would include a shot from the inside of the spacecraft. Given $1.5 million, Spielberg added seven minutes of new footage that helped to develop the characters better and took away ten minutes from previous scenes. The “special edition” of the film was released in August of 1980 and Spielberg was happy with the final product except for the interior scene of the spacecraft. He felt that it should have remained a mystery.

Debut of the 'New' LIFE Magazine

Originally a humor and general interest magazine, LIFE began publishing in 1883. However, it wasn’t until this day in 1936 that became the photojournal magazine that it is known for. Henry Luce, founder of Time magazine purchased LIFE earlier in the year and shifted its focus to news. He believed that pictures could tell stories instead of just illustrating text. Photos were printed on thick glossy paper. The format was a success. The first issue was published during the Great Depression and instead of focusing on the war, the first cover showed the Fort Peck Dam in Montana photographed by Margaret Bourke-White. By the 1950’s the magazine started to lose reader due to the popularity of TV. On December 29, 1972, LIFE printed its last weekly publication.