Finding E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial : The Filming Locations of E.T.

 

In the summer of 1981, director Steven Spielberg was enjoying enormous success from the release of his latest film, Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was just another notch in the belt of a young filmmaker whose name had become synonymous with ‘big’ blockbuster movies in the late 70’s and early 80’s. For some time, Spielberg had been wanting to get away from the big budget projects to work on something much more personal and smaller in scope. Little did he realize that his ‘small’ movie, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, would go on to become one of the biggest films ever released in the history of cinema.

Exactly thirty years ago, from September through December of 1981, Steven Spielberg and his film crew set out to bring E.T. to earth. Filmed entirely in the state of California, the production utilized several Southern California locales (with a brief shoot in Crescent City – Northern California for exterior forest scenes). The communities of Tujunga, Porter Ranch, and Granada Hills, located on the outskirts of Los Angeles, served as the locations for Elliott’s neighborhood. Soundstages at Laird Studios in Culver City were used for the interiors of Elliott’s home, backyard and the forest spaceship landing. The real-life suburban locations of Elliott’s neighborhood exist to this day and although, 30 years later, the trees are taller, homes have been repainted and walls and shrubbery have been put up, Elliott’s stomping grounds still remain intact.

One of the amazing benefits of living and working in Southern California is having the opportunity to visit a wide range of famous movie filming locations. After some brief online research with addresses and screen grabs saved on my phone; I put on my Marquee’ologist hat and set out to find E.T.’s earthly home.  Spielberg primarily shot E.T. in chronological order and this photo-log honors that by following the locations as seen in the order of the film. Angle variations in Then & Now pictures are usually chalked up to a number of variables including traffic, time of day, modern-day obstructions, and the lack of a movie crane and Panavision lens. With the exception of the forest locations in Northern California, Elliott’s school in Culver City and the on-stage home interiors, here is an extensive look at the Southern California locations for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.

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Enjoy!

 

 

Our E.T. Adventure starts in the quaint foothill town of Tujunga, California (pronounced TA-HUNG-A) just northeast of Beautiful, Downtown Burbank. Only one location was used here and that was for Elliott’s house. In actuality, this location is about 20 miles east of the neighborhood that was used for filming most of the movie. Steven Spielberg wanted a corner home set aside with a mountain backdrop … something they could not adequately find in the other neighborhood.

Elliott’s House on Lonzo St. in Tujunga, CA – Identical to its film appearance, changed only by the growth of trees and grass.

 

The neighbor’s home across the way, unchanged as well.

 

From Tujunga, we head about 20 miles due west to the San Fernando Valley community of Porter Ranch. It was here that the majority of outdoor locations for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial were shot.

Elliott’s path located on the hillside overlooking Porter Ranch. This is part of a hiking trail that winds around the hillside above the community.

 

Back to Tujunga to see “…what Michael did!”

 

The bus stop lcoated at Vista Grande Way & Capistrano Ln. in Porter Ranch.

 

A young Erika Eleniak (of Baywatch fame) at the bus stop.

 

“Keys” (Peter Coyote) overlooking Porter Ranch from Stewarton Drive.

 

Gertie’s waiting spot at the fence on Stewarton Drive. Spielberg also used this location to shoot the background plates for the kids flying their bikes over the neighborhood. Remnants of the old chain link fence supports still exist amid the newer, metal bar barriers.

 

The Halloween Trick-or-Treating scene. The picture on the bottom is an overlook shot of the entire intersection located on Granada Circle.

 

Some newly painted trim on the houses, repaved asphalt and bigger trees in the yards today.

 

A look at the opposite end of the intersection. The section of hill in the background is almost directly looking at the location for Elliott’s bike trail.

 

“Home!” There’s a neat story behind this scene. Steven Spielberg invited George Lucas to an early screening of the film and said that he put a surprise in it for him. When Yoda showed up, George elbowed Steven and said, “that was cool.”

 

Harrison Ford visits with Steven Spielberg. His then-wife, Melissa Mathison, wrote the script for ‘E.T’.

 

Michael (Robert McNaughton) heads out by bike from the home location in Tujunga.

 

Michael chased by the Feds down Viking Ave in Porter Ranch.

 

An alleyway located off Rinaldi St. in Porter Ranch.

 

Some new walls have been put up between the properties, but the garages remain mostly unchanged.

 

The sewer drain cover still exists and sports the original wood planks as seen in 1982.

 

A couple of lemon trees at the end of the hill are about the only changes to this part of the alley.

 

Back at the house in Tujunga.

 

Down Killimore Ave. approaching the intersection used for the Halloween scenes.

 

Match up the sewer grate and the windows on the houses and you know you’re in the right spot at the other end of Granada Circle. This street was also used for an extended Halloween scene that was put back in the 2002, 20th Anniversary Release of the film.

 

Porter Ridge Park (now known as E.T. Park by the locals) located at the end of Reseda Blvd. in Porter Ranch. Added playground features including concrete stairs, sand pits, basketball courts on the hill, and fully grown trees make the park almost unrecognizable from its appearance in the film.

 

The caterpillar remains the same, with a fresh coat of paint and a larger sand pit to play in.

 

This view of the park remains virtually unchanged except for the larger trees.

 

The monkey bars dome is gone and those young tree saplings are now fully grown.

 

At the time of filming, this entire subdivision in Porter Ranch was in the early stages of construction.

 

The boys’ exit between these two houses no longer leads to a vacant lot, but to the backyards of other homes.

 

Probably the most changed location from the entire movie, this intersection at Beaufait & Darby can only be identified by the curbs, streetlights and grade of the road.

 

A wider view of the intersection taken from a small hill located on the corner.

 

The streetlights and concrete drainage ditch on the hill give clues to this location on Beaufait.

 

The hills the boys jump over on the left are now replaced with houses.

 

Corner of Eddleston. The house no longer has a backyard that is accessible to bike traffic.

 

The take-off scene filmed on White Oak Ave. in Granada Hills, a few miles south of the locations in Porter Ranch.

 

Approaching the intersection of White Oak and Tulsa.

 

This location, aside from more robust trees, still looks and feels the same as it did in the film.

 

Behind-the-scenes. On location at the intersection of White Oak and Tulsa.

 

Filming the Feds running down White Oak Ave.

 

Steven Spielberg directs the take-off scene. Note the telephone pole for reference as to where he is standing.

 

Just after take-off. Aside from a wide STOP sign median, the view remains the same.

 

Special Effects wizard, Dennis Muren (in the blue/white hat), oversees filming for plates to be used by ILM showing the take-off of the bikes. Dennis pioneered most of the effects shots for many Spielberg and Lucas productions. It was his efforts that created the groundbreaking CGI dinosaurs for ‘Jurassic Park’.

 

 

 

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24 Responses to “Finding E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial : The Filming Locations of E.T.”

  1. Peter says:

    JimmyOlson,how could I contact you?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. nitrofurano says:

    would be really great having google-maps or openstreetmap link from each location

  3. JimmyOlson says:

    I remember working as a production assistant on this movie. I remember Speilberg was pretty cool as a young director. But Dee Wallace was a total bitch. She was always giving Spielberg head, trying to get more screen time. I remember when she did her “Halloween” Scene. She made it a point to wear it into Speilberg’s trailer, and didn’t come out for nearly 2 hours. On if those walls could talk. It still didn’t get her more screen time.

  4. Rob Scott says:

    You did a terrific job on putting this together. Thank you.
    My wife is from PA and when she moved out here and saw Porter Ranch she recognized it. We will be taking a drive to see it

  5. Karl says:

    Any dea where the “bald spot” and the ship landing sites are?

    • PeterB says:

      Landing site was filmed at Redhawk Lane in Fort Dick,California. But it is on private property in the backyards.

  6. Paul says:

    Great work and effort you’ve put into this. I adore the film and it’s amazing to see the real life locations it was filmed. Thanks very much man!

  7. mikey says:

    Hi their fab page an you tell me the name of house where the guys on bikes come out the backyard?

  8. […] a doubt a classic family film. With E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Spielberg created a firm family favourite. It’s got everything – humour, anguish, […]

  9. Starglider says:

    Great site, thank you!

    Do you have any idea where these scenes were filmed?

    – The burnt out trees where Elliott drops the Reese’s pieces
    – “The bald spot” with the old wooden fence
    – The water course where ET is found laying in the water

  10. Paul says:

    Gidday mate, thanks for the cool website. Hey do you know exactly where the bike path is on the hill that Elliot rides his BMX on? As in how do you access that path and where from? Any information would be greatly appreciated thanks mate 🙂

  11. Jonny says:

    Wonderful photos and site!

    The only photo that concerns me is the one of Keys – the still from the film doesn’t seem to correspond with the real life photo over Porter Ranch/Stewarton Drive.

    Any other suggestions as to whereabouts that was please? I’ve tried looking but no success.
    Yours in hope!

    Jonny 🙂

    • Tim says:

      Jonny,

      I have seen this location incorrectly marked on other sites too. That shot of Keys and the government agents surveying the neighborhood below was filmed a little bit east of where Elliott was shown riding his bike along the trail. There is a sort of dirt scrub area on a bluff just off of the trail where it begins near Reseda Blvd. This is exactly where the scene was filmed. Calle Vista Circle is the street right beneath Keys and the government agents. In the film, you can clearly make out a major street running off into the distance through the valley. That is Reseda Blvd.

      Tim

    • peter says:

      the houses seen at keys lookout are more to the left…
      one house is completely refurbished or replaced (fire maybe)
      other houses match up…

      probably filmed on stewerton drive at the end but a little more panned to the left…

  12. […] Christmas this year, we took pictures in one of the parks that was featured in a little movie we like to call E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Here’s how it […]

  13. peter says:

    great site!!

    im from the Netherlands (europe)
    and i will be visiting these locations in august!!

    thank you for sharing these great sites 🙂

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