Original Australian Daybill movie poster artwork by John Alvin. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a 1982 American epic science fiction film co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Spielberg and Melissa Mathison, featuring special effects by Carlo Rambaldi and Dennis Muren, and starring Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore and Peter Coyote. The concept for the film was based on an imaginary friend Spielberg created after his parents' divorce in 1960. In 1980, Spielberg met Mathison and developed a new story from the stalled science fiction/horror film project Night Skies.It is the highest-grossing film of the 1980's and is widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. In 1994, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.