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The Sci-Fi Classic Ending Steven Spielberg Regrets Filming

Steven Spielberg is one of the most iconic and influential directors of all time. The filmmaker behind blockbuster hits like "E.T." and "Jurassic Park" as well as more personal and haunting stories like "Munich" and "Schindler's List," Spielberg has displayed an impressive range throughout his career that has made him a Hollywood legend. 

However, when Spielberg was hot off the success of his first big hit, "Jaws," the writer-director wanted to bring to life a story that had been with him since he was a young man. This movie would eventually become "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," a tale of a telephone lineman, Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss), who becomes transfixed by a UFO and seeks to solve the mysteries behind its appearance. The film would garner Spielberg his first Oscar nomination for the prestigious Best Director trophy (via Brittanica). 

Despite the critical and commercial success he enjoyed with the science-fiction classic, Spielberg has some regrets about the movie, particularly concerning a 1980 special edition of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

Spielberg regretted showing the inside of the ship

In this second version of the film, Roy's descent into madness and obsession is less fanatical. However, the change that haunted Steven Spielberg most about this cut of the movie was the new footage that he himself filmed and added to the ending (via Hollywood Suite).

Columbia Pictures initially rushed the filmmaker to finish the movie. Later, after the success of its release, they made a deal with Spielberg that would allow him to re-edit "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" however he saw fit, so long as he added a sequence that shows the inside of the mothership that Roy enters at the end of the movie. Columbia wanted to use the new version to market and sell the VHS and LaserDisc versions of the film (via Film School Rejects).

While Spielberg agreed to the deal at the time, he would later see it as one of the greatest mistakes of his career. "I compromised and showed Richard Dreyfuss walking inside the mothership," the director recalled in an interview. "Which I never should have done because that should always have been kept a mystery."

It's for this reason that a third version of the movie exists today. Released in 1998, Spielberg's preferred version is the final cut of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," combining elements of the 1977 and 1980 versions into a definitive director's cut (via IMDb).