You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting an “E.T.” screening in Madison


I’ve got nothing against Steven Spielberg’s beloved 1982 family classic “E.T. The Extraterrestrial.” I showed it to my own kids for the first time a few months ago and they loved it (although it may have helped that I shut it off just when E.T. started getting the sniffles.)

But it seems a little odd that Madison audiences have gotten so many chances to see the film in so many different ways over the past few weeks. First, Madison Parks kicked off its “Moonlight Movies” series of outdoor family movies in May with a screening of “E.T.” at Olbrich Beach.

Then, last Monday, the Lakeside Cinema series at the Memorial Union Terrace kicked off its series of outdoor films — all having to do with aliens or outer space — with, you guessed it, “E.T.” (“Spaceballs,” not quite as heartwarming, plays this Monday night.)

And now, when I was at Sundance Cinemas on Sunday to see “Frances Ha” for the second time, I saw that Sundance’s Classics Series is devoted the month of June to the works of Steven Spielberg. And screening on Wednesday, June 19 is, of course, “E.T.” My only question at this point is why the Rooftop Cinema series at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art couldn’t have worked in a “E.T.” screening in its June series — perhaps playing it backward to make it a little more avant-garde.

I guess it’s a testament to “E.T” as a bonafide family classic that generations of moviegoers will turn out for, both older audiences feeling a touch of nostalgia and young families exposing their kids to the saga of Elliot, Gertie and their new houseguest. Still, that’s a lot of Reese’s Pieces.

The Spielberg series, by the way, shapes up like this, hitting four of his biggest films. Not an “Always” in the bunch.

Wednesday, June 5 — “Jaws” (1:30 and 6:45 p.m.) — Less family-friendly than “E.T.,” to be sure, but the film that pretty much invented the concept of the “summer blockbuster” works like gangbusters.

Wednesday, June 12 — “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (showtimes TBA) — Seriously, how great will it be to see Indy’s first outing on the big screen again with an audience?

Wednesday, June 19 — “E.T. The Extraterrestrial” (showtimes TBA) — See above.

Wednesday, June 26 — “Schindler’s List” (showtimes TBA) — Not exactly my idea of big-tub-0f-popcorn summer moviegoing, but a film you must see at least once. I wouldn’t make a plan to go out for drinks afterward, though.

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