“CE3K,” Happy 30th!

posted by Coate on January 4, 2008 at 8:10 am

“We Are Not Alone”

Here’s my “Close Encounters” 30th anniversary tribute…better late than never! (Had I not had a falling out with Bill Kallay, this probably would have appeared on the From Script To DVD website. And had I not been traveling extensively during November and December, I would have posted this closer to the film’s actual anniversary date.)

Anyway, enjoy the flashback! And please share your memories of seeing this classic movie.

New York: Ziegfeld 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo

Los Angeles: Cinerama Dome 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo

For the film’s general release, which began during the week of December 14, 1977, Columbia Pictures targeted 269 theaters primarily in major markets. Another 301 bookings began one week later. The majority of these original, December-initiated engagements are noted in the list below. (Please keep in mind that the small-market bookings, move-overs, second-run, international, etc. that began/took place during the early and middle months of 1978 have not been included.)

Anniston: Plaza Cinemas III
Birmingham: Roebuck Plaza Dolby Stereo
Huntsville: Trans-Lux Twin
Mobile: Capri
Montgomery: Eastmont 1 & 2
Tuscaloosa: Fox 1 & 2

Phoenix: Metro Center Cinema I-II-III
Phoenix: Thomas Mall Cinema I & II
Tucson: Buena Vista 1 & 2
Yuma: Plaza 1-2-3

Fayetteville: Razorback Twin Dolby Stereo
Fort Smith: Malco Mall Dolby Stereo
Jonesboro: Malco Twin Dolby Stereo
Little Rock: Cinema 150 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo

Vancouver: Vogue Dolby Stereo

Bakersfield: Stockdale 6
Berkeley: UA Cinema
Corte Madera: Cinema I
Costa Mesa: South Coast Plaza 3 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Davis: Cinema
El Centro: Fox
Escondido: Vineyard Twin
Eureka: State 3 Dolby Stereo
Fresno: UA Movies
Hayward: Southland Cinema 1-2-3
La Mirada: La Mirada 4
Lakewood: Lakewood Center 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Livermore: Vine
Los Angeles (Hollywood): Paramount 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Los Angeles (Sherman Oaks): La Reina
Los Angeles (Westwood): Crest Dolby Stereo
Los Angeles (Woodland Hills): Cinema I-II-III
Menlo Park: Guild
Merced: Regency
Millbrae: Millbrae
Modesto: Briggsmore Dolby Stereo
Montclair: Montclair Plaza Cinema I-II-III
Monterey: Cinema 70 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Oceanside: Camino Cinema IV
Orange: Cinedome 6 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Oxnard: Carriage Square
Palm Springs: Camelot 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Paramount: Rosecrans Drive-In
Pasadena: Hastings 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Pleasant Hill: Century 21
Redding: Showcase
Redondo Beach: South Bay Cinema I-II-III-IV
Sacramento: Sacramento Inn Cinema I-II-III
Salinas: Northridge IV Dolby Stereo
San Diego: Cinema 21 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
San Francisco: Coronet 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
San Luis Obispo: Fremont
Santa Barbara: Granada 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Santa Clara: Cinema 150 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Santa Cruz: Rio
Santa Maria: Peppertree Plaza
Santa Rosa: Coddingtown Dolby Stereo
South Lake Tahoe: Stateline Dolby Stereo
Stockton: Sherwood
West Covina: Eastland Dolby Stereo
Woodland: State Dolby Stereo

Boulder: Village Dolby Stereo
Colorado Springs: ?
Denver: Cooper 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Fort Collins: Campus West
Grand Junction: Cooper
Greeley: Cooper
Pueblo: Cooper

Danbury: Cinema I & II
Manchester: East 1-2-3
Orange: Showcase Cinemas
Stamford: Ridgeway
Torrington: Warner
Trumbull: UA Trumbull
Waterbury: Naugatuck Valley Mall Cinema I-II-III-IV
West Hartford: Elm
Westport: Fine Arts

Claymont: Eric 3 Tri-State Mall
Dover: Dover

Washington: K-B Cinema Dolby Stereo

Clearwater: Sunshine Mall
Fort Lauderdale: Coral Ridge Dolby Stereo
Fort Myers: Mall
Gainesville: Center Twin
Jacksonville: Regency 1 & 2 Dolby Stereo
Lauderhill: 16th Street
Mary Esther: Santa Rosa Cinema III
North Miami Beach: 163rd Street Dolby Stereo
Ocala: Springs
Orlando: Park West Dolby Stereo
Pensacola: Plaza 1 & 2
Saint Petersburg: Plaza I & II
Sarasota: Plaza I & II
South Miami: Dadeland Twin Dolby Stereo
Tallahassee: Varsity Twin Dolby Stereo
Tampa: Hillsboro 1 & 2
West Palm Beach: Plaza I & II Dolby Stereo

Albany: Mall Twin
Atlanta: Phipps Plaza Penthouse Dolby Stereo
Augusta: National Hills
Columbus: Plaza 1 & 2
Jonesboro: Arrowhead Dolby Stereo
Savannah: Terrace 1 & 2
Smyrna: Akers Mill Square
Stone Mountain: Stonemont Dolby Stereo

Honolulu: Waikiki 3

Boise: Fairvu
Idaho Falls: Cinema 4
Pocatello: Crest

Aurora: Fox Valley 1-2-3-4 Dolby Stereo
Belleville: BAC Cinema 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Bloomington: Castle Dolby Stereo
Calumet City: River Oaks 1-2-3 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Carbondale: Varsity Dolby Stereo
Carpentersville: Meadowdale Cinema I-II-III-IV
Champaign: Co-Ed I & II Dolby Stereo
Cherry Valley: CherryVale 1-2-3
Chicago: Esquire 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Crystal Lake: Showplace I-II-III Dolby Stereo
Danville: Fischer Dolby Stereo
De Kalb: Carroll
Decatur: Lincoln Dolby Stereo
Evergreen: Evergreen 1 & 2 70mm Six-Track Stereo
Joliet: Hillcrest
Kankakee: Paramount
La Salle: Majestic Dolby Stereo
Lombard: Yorktown Cinema I-II-III-IV
Marion: Town & Country
Norridge: Norridge 1-2-3-4
Orland Park: Orland Square 1-2-3-4
Peoria: Madison
Quincy: Town & Country
Schaumburg: Woodfield 1-2
Skokie: Old Orchard 70mm Six-Track Stereo
Springfield: ?
Waukegan: Lakehurst

Columbus: Columbus Center Twin Dolby Stereo
Elkhart: Concord Mall Cinema 1 & 2
Evansville: Northpark I & II Dolby Stereo
Fort Wayne: Holiday I & II Dolby Stereo
Indianapolis: Carlyle Dolby Stereo
Indianapolis: Georgetown Dolby Stereo
Merrillville: Crossroads
Michigan City: Marquette 1-2
Richmond: Sidewalk Dolby Stereo
South Bend: Town & Country 1 & 2

Cedar Rapids: New World Playhouse
Davenport: Northpark Cinema I & II
Des Moines: River Hills Dolby Stereo
Dubuque: Kennedy Mall Cinema I & II
Sioux City: Riviera 1 & 2

Lawrence: Varsity
Manhattan: Campus
Overland Park: Glenwood I & II Dolby Stereo
Salina: Vogue
Topeka: Topeka Boulevard Cinema I & II
Wichita: Twin Lakes Dolby Stereo

Florence: Florence Cinemas Dolby Stereo
Lexington: Turfland Mall Cinema I & II
Louisville: Showcase Cinemas 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Paducah: Columbia

Baton Rouge: Bon Marche 1 & 2 Dolby Stereo
Metairie: Lakeside Cinemas Dolby Stereo
Shreveport: Quail Creek

Augusta: Turnpike Mall Cinemas
Brunswick: Brunswick Cinema I & II
South Portland: Maine Mall Cinema I-II-III
Waterville: Cinema Center

Annapolis: Circle
Baltimore: Security Mall
Bel Air: Campus Hill I & II
Frederick: Holiday
Hagerstown: Long Meadow Twin
Harundale: Harundale Mall I & II
Marlow Heights: Marlow
New Carrollton: New Carrollton
Towson: York Road

Boston: Cinema 57 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Braintree: Braintree Cinema I-II-III-IV
Brockton: Brockton Cinema I-II-III-IV-V
Brookline: Chestnut Hill Cinema I & II Dolby Stereo
Danvers: Cinema City Dolby Stereo
Framingham: Framingham Cinema I-II-III-IV-V
Hyannis: Cape Cod Mall Cinema Centre Dolby Stereo
Leominster: Leominster Cinemas
North Dartmouth: North Dartmouth Mall
Pittsfield: Capitol
Swansea: Swansea Mall 4
West Springfield: Palace Twin Dolby Stereo
Woburn: Showcase Cinemas Dolby Stereo
Worcester: Showcase Cinemas

Grand Rapids: Northtown 1 & 2 Dolby Stereo
Grosse Pointe Woods: Woods
Jackson: Westwood Cinema 1 & 2
Kalamazoo: West Main
Kochville: Tri-City Quad
Lansing: Mall
Livonia: Mai Kai 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Pontiac: Pontiac Mall
Roseville: Macomb Mall Cinema I & II
Southfield: Americana Complex 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Southgate: Southgate 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo

Bloomington: Southtown 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Brooklyn Center: Brookdale East
Minneapolis: Orpheum
Roseville: Har-Mar 1 & 2

Biloxi: Edgewater Plaza
Columbus: Malco Mall Dolby Stereo
Greenville: Plaza
Meridian: College Park
Tupelo: Tupelo Twin

Columbia: Cinema
Joplin: Eastgate 1-2-3
Richmond Heights: Esquire 4
Saint Ann: Northwest Plaza I & II
Saint Joseph: Trail
Sappington: Mark Twain Dolby Stereo
Springfield: Century 21

Billings: Fox
Great Falls: Fox

Grand Island: Conestoga 4
Lincoln: Cooper Lincoln
Omaha: Indian Hills Dolby Stereo

Las Vegas: Parkway 3
Reno: Cinema

Bedford: Bedford Mall
Concord: Cinema 93
Keene: Plaza Twin
Nashua: Nashua Mall Cinema I & II
Portsmouth: Jerry Lewis Cinemas
Salem: Tri-Cinema Dolby Stereo

Asbury Park: Seaview Square
Bloomfield: Royal
Bricktown: Mall
Clifton: Clifton Dolby Stereo
East Brunswick: Route 18 Twin
Edison: Menlo Park Twin
Fort Lee: Linwood
Hackettstown: Mall
Hanover: Morris County Mall Twin
Jersey City: Jersey City Triplex
Lawrenceville: Eric Twin Lawrenceville
Moorestown: Eric Plaza
Oakland: Oakland Twin
Paramus: Stanley-Warner Route 4 Triplex 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Raritan: Sommerville Circle Twin
Red Bank: Movies
Ridgewood: Warner
Secaucus: Harmon Cove Quad
Toms River: Ocean County Mall
Totowa: Totowa Twin
Union: Union
West Orange: Essex Green

Albuquerque: The Mall
Santa Fe: Lensic

Albany: ?
Amherst: Boulevard Mall Cinema I-II-III
Bay Shore: South Shore Mall
Binghamton: Crest
Brockport: Strand
Cedarhurst: Central Dolby Stereo
Cheektowaga: Holiday 6 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Commack: RKO Twin Dolby Stereo
DeWitt: Cinema East
Hartsdale: Cinema I-II-III Dolby Stereo
Hudson: Hudson Studio
Hyde Park: Roosevelt
Kingston: Mayfair
Latham: Towne
Levittown: Nassau Quad
Merrick: Merrick
Middletown: Plaza
Mount Kisco: Mt. Kisco I & II
New City: Cinema 304
New Rochelle: Proctors Quad
New York (Bronx): Paradise Triplex
New York (Bronx): Riverdale
New York (Brooklyn): Georgetowne Twin
New York (Brooklyn): Kenmore
New York (Brooklyn): Oriental Twin
New York (Queens): Bay Terrace
New York (Queens): Elmwood
New York (Staten Island): Hylan
Newburgh: Mid Valley
Olean: Mall
Orangeburg: Orangeburg
Patchogue: Patchogue
Peekskill: Westchester Mall Triplex
Pittsford: Loews 3 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Roslyn: Roslyn Dolby Stereo
Stony Brook: Stoneybrook Twin
Yonkers: Movieland Dolby Stereo

Asheville: Merrimon Twin Dolby Stereo
Chapel Hill: Carolina Twin
Charlotte: Park Terrace 1 & 2 Dolby Stereo
Concord: Carolina Mall I-II-III
Fayetteville: Cardinal 1 & 2
Gastonia: Village
Goldsboro: Cinema Twin
Greensboro: Terrace 1 & 2
Greenville: Plaza Cinema 1 & 2
Hickory: Terrace 1 & 2
High Point: Towne Twin
Jacksonville: Brynn Marr Twin
Monroe: Village I & II
New Bern: Cinema
Raleigh: Cardinal 1 & 2 Dolby Stereo
Shelby: Rogers
Wilmington: Oleander Cinemas 1 & 2
Winston-Salem: Hanes Mall Cinema I-II-III-IV

Fargo: Cinema 70
Grand Forks: Plaza 1 & 2

Akron: Chapel Hill Cinema I-II-III
Akron: Rolling Acres Mall
Canton: Imperial Dolby Stereo
Cincinnati: Carousel Cinemas 1 & 2 Dolby Stereo
Cleveland: Yorktown I & II
Dayton: Dayton Mall Cinemas Dolby Stereo
Elyria: Midway Mall Twin
Lima: American Mall Cinema I & II
Mentor: Great Lakes Mall I & II
Niles: Eastwood 1 & 2
Richmond Heights: East I & II
Rocky River: West I & II
Springfield: Upper Valley Mall
Toledo: Showcase Cinemas 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
University Heights: Cedar Center
Westerville: Westerville
Whitehall: Town & Country
Youngstown: Newport

Lawton: Video Twin
Oklahoma City: Shepherd Twin
Tulsa: Southroads Mall

Ottawa: St. Laurent I & II Dolby Stereo
Toronto: York I & II Dolby Stereo

Bend: Bend Cinemas Dolby Stereo
Eugene: ?
Medford: Cinema Center
Portland: Eastgate 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Portland: Town Center 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Salem: Elsinore Dolby Stereo

Altoona: Park Hills
Bethlehem: Boyd Dolby Stereo
Camp Hill: Capital City Mall
Easton: Eric Twin Easton
Erie: Millcreek Mall
Feasterville: Eric Feasterville
Glenolden: Eric Twin MacDade Mall
Greensburg: Greengate Mall Cinema I-II-III
Johnstown: Westwood Plaza
King of Prussia: Plaza
Lancaster: Eric Twin Lancaster
Langhorne: Lincoln Plaza Twin
Monaca: Beaver Valley Mall Cinema I-II-III
Montgomery: Eric 3 Montgomeryville
Philadelphia: Eric Twin Ivy Ridge
Philadelphia: Sameric 70mm Six-Track Stereo
Pittsburgh: Warner 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Reading: Berkshire Mall
State College: Movies
Whitehall: Lehigh Valley Mall Cinema I-II-III
Wilkes-Barre: Wyoming Valley Mall Cinema Center
York: York Twin

Montreal: Atwater I & II Dolby Stereo

Middletown: Starcase Cinemas I-II-III
Providence: Lincoln Mall
Warwick: Warwick Mall

Charleston: Terrace
Columbia: Jefferson Square Dolby Stereo
Easley: Easley Mall 1 & 2
Florence: Crown
Greenville: Camelot 1 & 2
Spartanburg: Hillcrest

Sioux Falls: Plaza 1 & 2

Chattanooga: Eastgate 1 & 2 Dolby Stereo
Columbia: Cinema Twin
Goodletsville: Cinema 4 North
Kingsport: Fort Henry 5
Knoxville: Cedar Bluff 1 & 2
Memphis: Park
Nashville: Cinema 4 South

Abilene: Westgate Twin
Amarillo: Cinema 1 & 2 Dolby Stereo
Arlington: Six Flags Mall I & II
Austin: Capitol Plaza
Baytown: Bay Plaza 1 & 2
Brownsville: Northpark Plaza Cinema 1 & 2
Corpus Christi: National I & II
Dallas: Medallion Dolby Stereo
Denton: Cinema
El Paso: Northgate Dolby Stereo
Fort Worth: Ridglea 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Galveston: Galvez Plaza Cinemas I-II-III
Houston: Alabama 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Houston: Almeda 9 West
Houston: Saks Center Dolby Stereo
Houston: Town & Country Village 3 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo
Killeen: Northside Village Cinema I & II
Lake Jackson: Lake I & II
Laredo: Cinema del Norte 4
Longview: Cargill Triplex
Odessa: Winwood
Port Arthur: Park Plaza Twin
Richardson: Promenade I & II
San Angelo: Cinema 1 & 2
San Antonio: Century 6 South Dolby Stereo
San Antonio: Northwest Six Dolby Stereo
Sherman: Cinema 1 & 2
Sugar Land: Palms
Tyler: Cinema 1 & 2
Waco: Cinema Twin Dolby Stereo
Wichita Falls: Cinema 1 & 2

Ogden: Wilshire 3
Salt Lake City: Regency 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo

Burlington: Plaza Twin
Rutland: Movies

Baileys Crossroads: K-B Cinema 7
Charlottesville: Terrace 1 & 2
Richmond: Ridge Cinema 4
Springfield: Springfield Mall Cinema I-II-III-IV
Virginia Beach: Pembroke 1 & 2 Dolby Stereo

Everett: Everett Mall
Seattle: King Dolby Stereo
Spokane: UA Cinemas
Tacoma: Villa Plaza
Union Gap: Mercy Twin Dolby Stereo

Charleston: Virginian
Huntington: Cinema Dolby Stereo
Wheeling: Court

Appleton: Marc Dolby Stereo
Beloit: Majestic Dolby Stereo
Green Bay: Bay Dolby Stereo
Kenosha: Lake Dolby Stereo
Madison: Orpheum
Manitowoc: Strand Dolby Stereo
Milwaukee: Movies Northridge
Racine: Rapids Plaza Dolby Stereo
Sheboygan: Marc I & II
Stevens Point: Campus I & II Dolby Stereo
Superior: Palace
West Allis: Southtown Cinemas 1-2-3 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo

Casper: Rialto

02/24/78 ¦ France
02/24/78 ¦ Italy
02/24/78 ¦ Spain
02/25/78 ¦ Japan
02/27/78 ¦ Brazil
02/28/78 ¦ Norway
03/03/78 ¦ Denmark
03/03/78 ¦ Finland
03/03/78 ¦ Sweden
03/09/78 ¦ Argentina
03/09/78 ¦ Hong Kong
03/13/78 ¦ Netherlands
03/13/78 ¦ United Kingdom
03/16/78 ¦ Australia
03/16/78 ¦ New Zealand
03/24/78 ¦ West Germany
06/30/78 ¦ Mexico

Comments (31)

efriedmann on January 4, 2008 at 8:51 am

To this day, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, the original 1977 version, is still my favorite Steven Spielberg film! I saw it at the Ziegfeld when I was ten years-old.

Thanks for the great memories, Steven!

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on January 4, 2008 at 8:53 am

Thanks for the list, Michael. I’m surprised it didn’t play in Muncie, Indiana since so much of it took place there, even though it wasn’t filmed there (right?)

ceasar on January 4, 2008 at 9:26 am

In April 2001 A Space Odyssey is going to be forty years old. It was released in April of ‘68.

efriedmann on January 4, 2008 at 10:35 am

So Ceasar, I guess you should be the one to post a commentary for 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY this April.

GaryParks on January 4, 2008 at 10:56 am

Saw it at the Rio in Santa Cruz, CA, though not on opening week. I was in 9th grade at the time. Still reeling from Star Wars, my friends and I were suitably impressed by Close Encounters, though we still maintained our Star Wars enthusiasm.

The Rio (1949) is still intact and operating, though now mainly a live venue, with films from time-to-time.

HowardBHaas on January 4, 2008 at 11:00 am

Philadelphia newspapers have a photo of it on the marquee of the Sameric (Boyd).

Was supposed to have an anniv showing at NYC’s Paris, but that didn’t happen.

When reviewing 70 mm World Premieres, I drafted this, but the Ziegfeld has had so many 35 mm premieres, I didn’t submit it for an addition to the Intro. Close Encounters stands out as the most important of the 70 mm premieres there, right?

World Premieres of 70mm films at the Ziegfeld included Rollerball (June 25, 1975), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (November 15, 1977), The Rose (November 6, 1979), Fame (May 12, 1980), Grease 2 (June 9, 1982), Who’s That Girl (August 6, 1987), and Hoffa (December 15, 1992)

JSA on January 4, 2008 at 11:12 am

Welcome back Michael! Of course, the original version is my favorite. The date escapes me, but it was probably 1978 when I first saw it at the UA Cinema 150 in Carolina, Puerto Rico. In many ways, a more satisfying experience than that other movie by George Lucas. The film portrayed a more human and personal side. And although I enjoyed it entirely from start to finish, the opening desert sequence still gets me! It’s hard to explain, but it felt like I was “there”, or watching something that was “actually happening”. Anyway, a few years ago, the Director’s Cut (or “definitive” cut, whatever) was screened at Cal State Long Beach, and introduced by Director of Photography Vilmos Zsigmond. What a treat!

Bill: if you check the IMBD, it looks like Alabama doubled for many of the Indiana locations.


Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 4, 2008 at 1:34 pm

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” had a ‘Gala Premier’ at the Odeon Leicester Square, London, England, UK on Monday 13th March 1978. It was presented in 70mm and Dolby Stereo.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on January 4, 2008 at 2:31 pm

To add to Howard’s list of big 70mm premieres at the Ziegfeld: “Ryan’s Daughter” in November 1970 (actually shot in 70mm, and not a blow-up from 35mm) and “Gandhi” in December 1982. Each played there for about 7 months – I think they were the two longest-running engagements in the theater’s history.

Sorry about this aside – now back to “Close Encounters” …

JohnMLauter on January 4, 2008 at 7:45 pm

I saw “Close Encounters” at the Mai Kai in my hometown of Livonia. It was one of the houses that opened this film in 70mm, an important thing with me at the time as I had just run a retor showing of “2001” at the Summit Cinerama downtown and my cohorts and I from the Redford theatre had gotten the Norelco AAII projectors from the Summit donated to the Redford and we were in the midst of remodeling the booth for the 70mm projectors. Back to “Encounters”—the film went off screen at the Mai Kai about ¾ of the way through the film, they couldn’t get it back on and had to issue “admit ones” to the entire opening night audience. I did come back and see it in its entirety, liked the first cut much better than the later director’s cut. I really miss the Mai Kai, the poor girl was too good for the bedroom community of Livonia, the city was offered the building by the Nicholas George family as a civic auditorium but the turned it down. They paid a consultant firm to “tell us we’ll lose tons of money running this auditorium” and that’s exactly what the report read. It was something special to go see a BIG film there. The Mai kai was about the same age that the NY Roxy and Paramount, SF Fox, Toledo Paramount and other great palaces were demolished.

JodarMovieFan on January 4, 2008 at 8:28 pm

Unfortunately, I was too young and my parents yielded quite a heavy right hand, on my bottom, if I even broached the subject of “going to the movies,” much less one about “aliens” from another planet. Though, my oldest brother, had the good fortune and better persuasive skills (heck, he was the older brother) to allow us to go see Rocky, only a few weeks later. BLEH.

I don’t think I ever saw CE3K in the theater in any of its versions. In 1980, when there was the special edition and the look inside the mothership (and when I was allowed to go to movies), I wanted to see it but it didn’t last very long in area theaters from what I recall. Michael, you have quite an exhaustive list there but I could’ve sworn that we got a 70mm print at our Uptown during its initial run. If I have the time, I’ll check the Post archives.

Probably my first time seeing the movie was on ABC. If memory serves me correctly, the network version was a combination of the special edition and original. Being very young and with a youth’s shorter attention span, my initial reaction to the movie was slow. It took awhile to get to the BIG finale where everything, everybody comes together..literally. As far as the look inside the mother ship that seemed to get the ire of some critics and fans, what is the big deal? I’m sure everyone wanted to know what it was like inside and when Spielberg went back to do the Special Edition, he pretty much satisfied that curiosity.

If AFI would get its act together and put on a decent sci-fi retrospective, it would be nice to include this film. I’d probably go for the DVD version, which I’ve read, has a combination of both versions and is the preferred Spielberg cut.

JSA on January 4, 2008 at 10:18 pm


The big deal is that I did not need to see the inside of the ship in the first place. In my opinion, the addition interrupted the “emotional” continuity of the film at its conclusion.

The recent DVD release has all 3 versions of the film, and I understand is a very comprehensive and well done package.


Coate on January 5, 2008 at 1:04 am
Michael, you have quite an exhaustive list there but I could've sworn that we got a 70mm print at our Uptown during its initial run. If I have the time, I'll check the Post archives.

JodarMovieFan…I have no way of knowing where the heck you are from! A lot of cities have an “Uptown” theater or a “Post” newspaper!!!

But I’ll guess you’re referring to Washington, DC… If so, then I can relay to you that “Close Encounters” did not play at the UPTOWN in 70mm. In fact, it did not run at the UPTOWN in any format since at the time of the “CE3K” release the single-screen UPTOWN was showing a different movie (“Star Wars”). My list correctly cites the K-B CINEMA as the DC venue showing “CE3K.”

Coate on January 5, 2008 at 1:57 am
Thanks for the list, Michael. I'm surprised it didn't play in Muncie, Indiana since so much of it took place there

You’re welcome. I estimate my list in its current form is about 80% complete as far as the bookings that started in December ‘77 are concerned. So it’s possible Muncie is among the 20% of missing bookings. If it can be confirmed, I’ll update the list accordingly.

By the way, are you aware of the recently published book, “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind: The Making Of Steven Spielberg’s Classic Film” (Ray Morton, Applause, 2007)? Anyone who is a fan of the film ought to check it out.

egcarter on January 5, 2008 at 2:51 am

Ahhh…brings tears to my eyes. I attended the first show (Noon) opening day at the Dome in Hollywood after driving in from grad school in Austin, TX and picking up a fraternity brother who flew down from grad school in Berkeley. We met other “brothers” at the Dome in those two huge parallel lines. One for tix for the next show and the other for later shows. I was to buy tix for an evening show as well, since other friends couldn’t attend in the daytime. Never made it to the boxoffice in my line and gave up and went into the Dome at 11:55. Saw it again there Saturday night with a bunch of old classmates. Unbelievable lines snaking around the parking lot at 10AM to buy tix.
Also saw it at the Ziegfeld over the Holidays and at the Alabama and Town and Country in Houston. (plus some 35mm engagements like the Medallion in Dallas, which is where the film had the big sneak preview that TIME mag sneaked into and reviewed). I dunno why the terrific Medallion didn’t get a 70mm print!

Jim Vecchio
Jim Vecchio on January 7, 2008 at 5:08 am

As I recall, I viewed the movie at the Merrit Theater, on Main St. in Bridgeport, a theater rhat no longer exists. I also saw it at the Showcase in Orange. My first reaction was to immediately purchase the LP, which has since disappeared into that mystical world where all fondly-remembered keepsakes go. I have never looked at mashed potatoes the same way since!

efriedmann on January 7, 2008 at 5:45 am

I was watching some it over the weekend on American Movie Classics, but had to turn it off because my wife felt some of the scenes might be too intense for our toddler.

The things I have to do as a father!

Coate on January 7, 2008 at 7:30 am
As I recall, I viewed the movie at the Merrit Theater, on Main St. in Bridgeport

During the initial weeks of the “CE3K” release, the MERRITT was showing “Saturday Night Fever” and “The World’s Greatest Lover.” Are you sure it wasn’t the FINE ARTS in Westport where you saw it?

“Star Wars,” by the way, played a 23-week run at the MERRITT that same year. Could you be confusing “CE3K” with “Star Wars”?

RetroFan on January 7, 2008 at 12:28 pm

I saw this in Reno at the Keystone Cinema (listed here as “Cinema”). It was a decent, no frills single screen theater. I was mesmerized from start to finish – to these (then) seven-year-old eyes, I saw the most wonderful fantasy. How I wished I were the Roy Neary character! I was able to see the film one more time after Thanksgiving and then proceeded to buy every fantasy/sci-fi magazine that featured the film on its cover (which educated me on the sci-fi films of the 50’s and 60’s as well!)
Such a terrific film that lost none of its appeal for me all these years!

StanMalone on January 8, 2008 at 7:19 am

I saw CE3K opening week at the Phipps Plaza Penthouse in Atlanta. 35MM only since the Penthouse did not have 70MM equipment. This was the first film to use the new Dolby system here, and my first impression was that it was too loud. Too many people confuse volume with effect and do not think that they are getting their stereo effect unless they leave the theatre with their ears ringing. In the late summer of 1978, the Fox Theatre in Atlanta added CE to the end of their summer movie schedule. The Fox did not have Dolby then, but I went to see it because they had a 70MM print that would use the 6 track mag sound system that was there. There was a huge crowd, but two of the reels were in terrible shape and there were half a dozen film breaks in that section.

As for the movie, I enjoyed it and thought that it was a good, well made movie, but a little long is some sections. It has never been on any all time favorite list of mine. My favorite scene is when Richard Dreyfus wrecks his car on the way to Devils Tower. As the camera follows him as he climbs up the embankment to look around, you get your first glimpse of the Tower at the edge of the screen. This subtle effect is completely wasted on the millions of people who have seen the movie P&S on TV as the Tower is cropped off. In 1981, or whenever it came out, I was working in a theatre that ran the SE version. I thought the changes made the first version look like a masterpiece, but it did great business for a couple of weeks.

As for my theatre employee experiences with CE3K, I have two. In 1996 I was working the projection booth at the Fox, and one of the Summer Film Series bookings was an all day Spielberg festival of Jaws, Raiders, and at 8 PM, CE3K. Some people were there all day, and by 8 there were enough people to fill about three fourths of the 4500 Fox seats. Those of you who worked in theatres in the early days of Dolby might recall that the early Dolby features were released in two different versions, some with Dolby soundtracks, and the rest with mono soundtracks. As our bad luck would have it, the Jaws and Raiders prints had been struck recently, but not only was the CE print an original from 1977, it was mono as well. It was in good condition, but sounded terrible.

My other memory dates back only to March, 2006. In the early 70’s I worked at the Atlanta Theatre, which at the time was operated by Walter Reade Org. All I ever heard about from the managers and other company people who came to town from New York was what a great theatre the Ziegfeld was. I always wanted to see a movie there to see just how the theatre measured up to its reputation. When the Ziegfeld put on its Cinema Classics series I made a day trip to NY and caught an afternoon showing of CE. The theatre was nice, but I would have been much more impressed in 1971 when I was new to the business. The presentation was just fair. No 70MM, but 35MM Dolby. The movie was the third edition, which I believe is also the directors cut.

As do most people, I thought the SE version was a joke, and liked the original version best, although both the first or third versions are fine.

jimpiscitelli on January 8, 2008 at 10:28 am

Was too young to see it in theatres, but I originally saw the film on ABC and bought the VHS of the Special Edition. But I do plan on buying the 3-DVD set which also has the Theatrical Version and the 1998 Collector’s Edition. It is also available on a single Blu-Ray disc since Blu-Ray can store more data than a standard DVD.

Flix70 on January 8, 2008 at 4:46 pm

Happy belated b-day, Close Encounters. I caught CETK at the South Coast Plaza 3 when I was seven years old and it remains one of my favorite films. Got the new three-disc Ultimate Edition DVD for Xmas and recently screened all three versions. I prefer the Director’s Cut but did enjoy seeing both the Original Theatrical and Special Edition cuts again. I forgot how much of a let-down the Special Edition was at the end. It’s sad there wasn’t a theatrical re-release for the anniversary.

Coate on January 10, 2008 at 4:59 pm
**I'm surprised it didn't play in Muncie, Indiana **

Bill H: I’ve verified that “CE3K” did in fact play in Muncie during the early weeks of the film’s release. It’s listed below along with a handful of other recently verified engagements.

Calgary: North Hill
Calgary: Uptown 1 & 2
Edmonton: Meadowlark

New Westminster: Odeon New West

Colorado Springs: Cinema 150

Groton: Groton Cinemas 1 & 2
Uncasville: Liberty Dolby Stereo

Athens: Weis Cinemas

Springfield: White Oaks Mall

Anderson: Mounds Mall Cinema I & II
Bloomington: Von Lee Dolby Stereo
Muncie: Northwest Plaza Cinema I & II
Terre Haute: Honey Creek Cinema I-II-III

Waterloo: Crossroads 1 & 2

Owensboro: Malco

Winnipeg: Odeon

Ann Arbor: Fox Village
Burton: Eastland Mall

Rochester: Cinema 1 & 2

Toronto: Don Mills
Toronto: Humber I & II

Corvallis: Cinema World Dolby Stereo

Jackson: Paramount

Orem: University I & II

Springfield: Springfield Cinema I (this is a correction)

Eau Claire: State
Madison: Orpheum Dolby Stereo (Dolby notation added)

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on January 11, 2008 at 4:53 am

Thanks, Michael. It must have been an extra thrill to see the movie in Muncie when that title card came up on the screen, for the first scene with Jillian and Barry.

Coate on January 14, 2008 at 9:17 am

A few more…

Fairfield: Fairfield Dolby Stereo

West Lafayette: Cinema West

Rochester: Oakview (this is a correction)

Bismarck: Kirkwood Plaza

Bristol: Bristol Mall 4

Coate on January 16, 2008 at 7:01 pm

Wait, there’s more…

Edmonton: Odeon 1 & 2

Victoria: Odeon 1 & 2

Daytona Beach: Bellair Plaza

Monroe: Plaza

Battle Creek: West Columbia

Halifax: Hyland

Kitchener: Lyric
Thunder Bay: Victoria

Scranton: Viewmont Mall Cinema I-II-III

Johnson City: Mall

College Station: Interstate

raysson on February 28, 2013 at 3:47 pm


There’s more from North Carolina…….

ONLY Raleigh, Asheville and Charlotte were the only theatres in the state that presented CLOSE ENCOUNTERS in DOBLY STEREO……

The theatres that were absent from this list……..

Chapel Hill: Carolina Twin

Durham: Center Twin aka Center 1 & 2

Burlington: Terrace 1 & 2

Sanford: Kendale Twin

Rockingham: Cinema

Hickory: Terrace Twin

Greenville: Plaza 1 & 2

Aberdeen/Southern Pines: Town and Country 1 & 2

Giles on September 15, 2017 at 2:22 pm

I thought there was a change over from the 35mm print to 70mm at the KB Cinema (?) but on the second largest screen in DC at the time, the experience in picture size and sound was phenomenal

While it wasn’t during CE3K’s premier engagement – Tyson’s Cinema presented it in 70mm in 1978:


MSC77 on October 18, 2017 at 8:43 pm

Giles… I don’t see any evidence the K-B Cinema ran CE3K in 70mm. The MacArthur did, though, following the K-B Cinema first run and at the same time as the Tysons run you cited.

MSC77 on November 17, 2017 at 11:30 pm

For those with an interest in this sort of stuff, here are links to a new retrospective article for the movie’s 40th anniversary. And another one focused on the movie’s 70mm presentations over the years.

DJRage70 on September 8, 2022 at 9:37 pm

I saw Close Encounters at Almeda 9 West.

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