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E.T. found in New Mexico landfill

e.t. dig

E.T.’s been found in a New Mexico landfill. Not the real one, of course, he’s home with his family. (Though, with no idea what his lifecycle is he may be long dead since appearing in Steven Spielberg’s documentary.) No, what’s been uncovered is copies of Atari’s 1982 tie-in game.

There were rumours of millions of copies of E.T. being buried in a landfill 30 years ago as a way of saving money. This seems to confirm it.

Zak Penn, one of the writes on The Avengers and X-Men 2, is leading the excavation of the dig as part of a documentary to uncover exactly what happened all those years ago. The story seems to be that Atari produced millions of copies of their rubbish E.T. game, assuming that the movie’s popularity would shift them. When the game bombed the publisher was left with warehouses full of an unsellable game. So they buried them.

Penn’s trying to get to the bottom of it all but, before yesterday’s dig, he didn’t know for sure if it was true. It’s only when the diggers unearthed piles of the game yesterday that it started to come together.

“If we had found absolutely nothing, that would have been the point [of the documentary].” Penn told Polygon, who had travelled out to the dump. “What would have sucked is if we’d have dug up some stuff, and there’s no E.T. games. I’m glad that didn’t happen.”

What happens next is more digging. The filmmakers need to determine the extent of the stockpile that sits at the bottom of this landfill. Then they’ll get to making the thing.

Wired have put together a short video that explains the dig.