Steven Spielberg made quite a name for himself with the 1975 blockbuster Jaws. There were big expectations for his next film, which was going to be about aliens from outer space. But before Close Encounters of the Third Kind was produced, the story went through a lot of changes. Would you even recognize it with a plot like this?
Spielberg’s initial story outline involved UFOs and shady government dealings following the Watergate scandal, which became a script entitled “Watch the Skies.” The idea involved a police or military officer working on Project Blue Book, the Air Force’s official study into UFOs in the 1950s and 1960s, who would become the whistleblower on the government cover-up of aliens. There were numerous rewrites—Taxi Driver scribe Paul Schrader even took a crack at it, penning a political UFO thriller titled “Kingdom Come” that Spielberg and the movie studio rejected—before the story we know today emerged.
The movie he eventually produced put Spielberg into overdrive, as he directed or produced hit after hit in the 1980s. One of them, E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, was inspired by the final scene in Close Encounters. Read how that happened and lots more stories about Close Encounters at mental_floss.