The ‘one-of-a-kind cinematographic relic’ is expected to pull in $2 million to $3 million at an auction soon.
It’s the stuff that dreams are made of.
Sam Spade, the hero of the 1940s private eye classic “The Maltese Falcon” used those words to describe the eponymous bird statue that sparked lies, betrayal and murder.
However, Humphrey Bogart’s closing line could easily be applied to other movie memorabilia, which can scare up some very impressive price tags.
Indeed, the bird statue from the Bogart flick sold for nearly $4.1 million in 2013, pretty close to what the Fat Man thought it was worth.
Now another piece of movie history is ready to enter the multi-million dollar club,
‘An Engineering Masterpiece’
We’re talking about the title character from Steven Spielberg’s film “E.T.,the Extra-Terrestrial,” which landed in movie theaters in 1982 and became an instant blockbuster.
Inspired by an imaginary friend that Spielberg created after his parents’ divorce, “E.T.” became the highest-grossing film of all time, until it got stomped by the director’s own dinosaur epic “Jurassic Park” 11 years later.
Now the mechatronic model of the alien who wanted to phone home is going on the auction block for a mere $2 million to $3 million–just in time for the film’s 40th anniversary.
You could buy a lot of Reese’s Pieces for that kind of money and E.T.’s yen for the peanut butter candy boosted sales by something like 300%.
E.T and other movie items will go on sale at the “Icons & Idols: Hollywood” auction, which takes place live Dec. 17-18 in Beverly Hills and online at JuliensLive.com.
“Pre-dating modern CGI technology and effects, this one-of-a-kind cinematographic relic (constructed in 1981) features 85 points of movement and is regarded as an engineering masterpiece,” the lot description said.
E.T. was created by Carlo Rambaldi, an Italian special effects master, who worked on “Alien” and Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” among other films.
Other items scheduled to be sold include three dresses worn by Marilyn Monroe, and Charlton Heston’s original “Holy Staff” from “The Ten Commandments.”
‘A Cultural Touching Point’
Robert Thompson, a professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University, described “E.T.” as “one of the classic movies of the last part of the 20th century.”
“It spans generations,” he said. “People loved it when they were little and they went on to show it to their kids when they grew up. It’s this wholesome, tear-jerking, turn-on-the-heart-light kind of thing. It’s one of those movies with broad appeal that I suspect we’ll be watching as long as there is a means to watch it.”
Thompson said “E.T.” is one of a relatively small number of films that really have a broad appeal and “even if you’ve never seen it, you’ve heard about it because it’s become part of the culture and vernacular.”
“It’s a cultural touching point that everybody understands,” he said, “and if you’ve got a piece of it, then that’s something everybody can be impressed with because everybody pretty much you know has heard of it before.”
A volleyball prop from the 2000 movie “Cast Away” recently sold at auction for $83,828, Bloomberg reported, and other items for sale include Christopher Reeve’s costume from the “Superman” franchise and Darth Vader’s gloves from “Star Wars: A New Generation.”
People interested in buying these kind of items, Thompson said, “must have a lot of disposable income because you’re paying that kind of money for something that has no actual use short of the fact that it was in this movie and you can show it off and brag about it.”
“E.T.” came out the same year that Michael Jackson released the “Thriller” album, “Late Night with David Letterman” debuted on NBC and Time Magazine named the personal computer as the “Machine of the Year” in a story that was written on a typewriter because the magazine’s newsroom didn’t have computers yet.
‘The Closest Thing to Immortality’
Thompson described this time as “the last gasp of a completely consensus culture…where you could really say there were a lot of things out there that everybody was consuming” as many people watched the same TV shows at the same time and listened to the same songs.
“E.T. arrived as cable television is beginning to grow,” he said. “The internet was still a ways off, but not too far, so movies that came out then were still of that era where they were still totally central to a huge percentage of the population.”
With the growth of cable and the internet, he said, audiences began to fragment.
As far as memorabilia, Thompson said that movies “are one of the closet things we have in this world to immortality.”
“You can turn on a film on TV Turner Classic Movies on any given night and every single person on that screen has long since died,” he said, “yet here they are in their prime once again.”
“And the idea that we would actually have something from that world, something that was literally part of that film that we can see 20, 40, 50 or 100 years later,” Thompson added, “I think that’s got an almost magic to it and if you’ve got millions of dollars burning a hole in your pocket, I suppose purchasing that kind of magic could be appealing you.”