6:55pm Wednesday, December 26 on C4

Over the holiday period Channel 4 presents an opportunity to see the complete trilogy of films, each introduced by director Peter Jackson. In the second of the J.R.R. Tolkien adaptations, The Fellowship face unimaginable armies and deception as they stand against the powerful forces spreading from the Two Towers.

5:40pm Tuesday, December 25 on C4

Over the holiday period Channel 4 presents an opportunity to see the complete trilogy of films, each introduced by director Peter Jackson. In the first of the J.R.R. Tolkien adaptations, Elijah Wood stars as Frodo, a hobbit who elects to become the bearer of the Ring of Power, which, if regained by its maker and master, Lord Sauron, will see him gain full and terrible power over all of Middle Earth.

9:00pm Saturday, December 22 on C4

Network premiere. Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn star in Seth Gordon’s frothy romcom about a happily unmarried couple who reconsider their relationship after spending Christmas with their families. The couple usually avoid family Christmases but when their flight abroad is cancelled they have no choice but to see each of their divorced parents – whom they’ve never introduced one another to – on the same day…

Sunday, 16 December 2012, 7:00PM – 8:00PM

“They handed me an improvisation opportunity – ‘you’ve found a friend and someone is trying to take it away from you’. I went with that and everyone responded to it. They were crying and I was crying and they said, ‘Kid, you got the job.'”
Henry Thomas on his audition for the role of Elliott, in front of Steven Spielberg.

Thirty years ago, on the 9th of December 1982, a family movie was released in the UK which would be critically acclaimed as a timeless story of friendship. ‘E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial’ drew on the real story of director Steven Spielberg’s parents’ divorce and follows a young boy, Elliot, and his siblings who make friends with a stranded alien and try to help him return home.

To celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary, this hour-long documentary ‘Happy Birthday E.T.’ tells the story behind the movie, which has been voted the UK’s favourite family film ever. From the making of the film and the casting of the main roles, to bringing E.T. to life and the immense secrecy surrounding the making of the film, the documentary explores how a family film went on to become a huge blockbuster, surpassing Star Wars to become the highest grossing film of all time, a record it held for 10 years.

‘Happy Birthday E.T.’ includes unseen footage of Steven Spielberg plus new and exclusive interviews with Henry Thomas (Elliott) Dee Wallace Stone (Elliott’s Mum), Robert MacNaughton (older brother, Mike) and Erika Eleniak (the girl Elliott kisses). It also features the people behind the scenes who helped bring the film to life including casting director Mike Fenton and Caprice Spencer Rothe, the mime artist who performed E.T.’s hands.

Of the intense secrecy surrounding the film during production, actor Robert MacNaughton (Mike) explains: “They sent us the script…and we read it, but then we had to give it back. And then we just got the scenes for that day, so I never actually had a physical copy of the script all the way through the filming.”

The documentary also takes actor Henry Thomas, who as a 10-year-old played Elliott, back to the suburban Californian house where much of the film was shot, for the first time in 30 years.

The programme uncovers surprising facts behind the making of the film. Spielberg shot the film in script order to get a genuine emotional response from the child actors. So when E.T. departs at the end, the tears are all real. The face of E.T. was modelled on a cross between Albert Einstein and a newborn baby and cost $1.4 million to create. Also, when E.T was seen dying, all the doctors in the shot were real, including Spielberg’s own doctor – as he believed they would be more convincing than actors.

Three decades on, Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece still attracts huge audiences whenever it is shown on television and continues to engage with new generations of viewers. ‘Happy Birthday E.T.’ offers a new insight into the magic of E.T.’s timeless appeal.

9:00pm Saturday, December 15 on C4

Network premiere. Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart star in the third instalment of the teen fantasy romance-thriller, directed by David Slade. Bella Swan (Stewart) remains torn over whether to plight her troth to the chill-skinned, undead Edward Cullen (Pattinson) or instead opt for Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), whose warm-bloodedness is offset by his periodic bouts of lupine transformation. But rivalries and romantic choices must be set aside when an old enemy unleashes a merciless horde of ‘newborn’ vampires, aiming to kill Bella and settle a score with Edward…

9:00pm Saturday, November 24 on C4

Network premiere of Joe Johnston’s (Captain America: The First Avenger) re-boot of the classic 1940s Universal gothic horror. Benicio Del Toro plays Lawrence Talbot, a Victorian actor who returns to the ancestral home to discover that his brother has been savagely murdered. But when Talbot sets out in search of the mysterious perpetrator, he is himself attacked by a vicious creature and succumbs to a family curse that strikes with every full moon… Also starring Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving

8:00pm Saturday, November 17 on C4

Director Michael Bay returns with his second instalment of the sci-fi action romp that pits humans against some big, bad (very bad) alien robots, the Decepticons.

9:00pm Saturday, November 10 on C4

Network premiere of this James Mangold directed action-comedy. June Havens (Cameron Diaz) crosses paths with Roy Miller (Tom Cruise) getting on a flight. He’s a CIA assassin whose colleagues consider to have turned rogue agent. But he realises that, now she’s met him, June’s life is also in danger from those chasing him, so kidnaps her to keep her safe. Forced to flee with him, the duo dash around the globe – with locations sweeping from the South Pacific to Seville – and must survive chase after chase in the fight to clear his name and return June to her ‘regular’ life in Wichita, Kansas.

9:15pm Saturday, October 20 on C4

(2009) Network premiere of the late Tony Scott’s remake of the 1974 thriller, starring John Travolta and Denzel Washington. It’s a day that the passengers on a New York subway train are unlikely to forget. And it’s one that could rescue the professional life of subway employee Walter Garber (Washington), whose glittering career has been derailed by allegations of corruption. Garber is languishing on duty as a train dispatcher when all hell breaks loose after one of the Lexington Avenue line trains is hijacked by a gang led by the supremely self-assured, calmly ruthless Ryder (Travolta). Ryder issues a demand for $10m and makes it clear that he won’t hesitate to kill anyone who gets in his way.

11:15pm Sunday, September 2 on C4

Network premiere of Richard Ayoade’s directorial debut; an idiosyncratic coming-of-age drama. At home 15-year-old Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) has to deal with parents Jill and Lloyd’s (Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor) troubled marriage which comes under further threat with the arrival of her ex, Graham, a narcissistic guru (Paddy Considine, resplendent with mullet). Meanwhile at school, Oliver falls for classmate Jordana Bevan (Yasmin Paige). Based on Joe Dunthorne’s novel, the film richly conveys the complexities of growing up without pandering to nostalgia or comic exaggeration.

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