Sections

Film crew wins right to excavate E.T. landfill

Alleged resting place of Atari's disastrous game to be uncovered for Xbox-backed documentary

A documentary film crew has been given clearance to excavate a fabled cache of Atari's famous flop, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.

According to a report in the Alamogordo News, the New Mexico Environmental Department (NMED) has granted permission for three companies - Fuel Entertainment, LightBox Entertainment and Xbox Entertainment Studios - to excavate a landfill in the local area, as part of a documentary about the industry crash of 1983.

The decision was delayed due to testing of the site by the NMED, which found chemicals in excess of federal limits. Happily, the NMED found that the chemicals in question would not cause a person to "drop dead" in such small quantities, though they could pose health risks with prolonged exposure.

Atari's adaptation of Steven Spielberg's immortal crowdpleaser was released in 1982, and is now regarded as one of the biggest commercial failures in the history of the industry. Indeed, it is widely - and somewhat hyperbolically - cited as a key contributor to the industry-wide market crash of the following year due to its impact on Atari, which was hugely influential at the time.

In any case, the ultimate fate of millions of unsold game cartridges - compressed, encased in concrete, and used as filler for a giant hole somewhere in the New Mexico desert - is one of gaming's most enduring urban legends.

Related stories

Atari is preparing to launch new hardware

The "Ataribox" is "years in the making" and will be based on PC technology

By Matthew Handrahan

Frontier suing Atari over RollerCoaster Tycoon royalties

Cambridge-based developer claims it is owed $2.2m, has attempted to resolve situation without legal action

By James Batchelor

Latest comments (4)

Jess Kappeler Senior Game Designer, Pipeworks Studio3 years ago
Like digging up gold.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Edward Buffery Head of LQA (UK), Testronic3 years ago
Man, it'll be great to see them finally get unearthed after hearing about it for so long!
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 3 years ago
I'd imagine this will be HUGELY disappointing as I can only imagine what the chemicals in that concrete and time have done to whatever they'll unearth. Hopefully, this won't have consequences down the road like the filming of the movie The Conqueror, but we'll see, I guess...
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (4)
Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 3 years ago
Can't wait to hear how this turns out!
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.