Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind is the awe-inspiring story of a middle-aged dad who straight-up abandons his family, but it's okay because … aliens? In the end, Roy Neary not only leaves his wife and three kids for a trip to Wyoming, he hops on an extraterrestrial mothership and leaves Earth -- which may have seemed enchanting to audiences when combined with that majestic John Williams score, but to the Neary kids, that jerk may as well have gone out for a pack of cigarettes and bolted to Tijuana

ccording to certain conspiracy theorists, a version of this ending happened in real life. Some people believe that beings from a planet called "Serpo" crashed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, and later the U.S. government set up an exchange program with the aliens, sending twelve humans to visit Serpo -- but they were all military personnel, as far as we know the story doesn't include any rando mashed potato obsessives. It's also rumored that, after screening Close Encounters in the White House, Ronald Reagan told Spielberg: "You don't know how true this really is."

Additionally, some believe that UFO researcher Dr. Allen Hynek, who Spielberg hired as a consultant on Close Encounters, may have slipped the director secret information about "Project Serpo." This line of thinking was seemingly confirmed to a degree by Spielberg, who once claimed in an interview that NASA sent him a 20-page letter warning him not to make the movie because it was "dangerous." (Which is a pretty crazy bit of movie trivia.) 

But when you dig up the actual interview, there's much more to the quote. According to Spielberg, he was the one who originally reached out to NASA because he wanted their participation. But then they were freaked out because he had "convinced so many people around the world that there were sharks in toilets and bathtubs," and they didn't want a similar "epidemic" happening with UFOs. Yeah, they just didn't want the Jaws guy making everybody friggin' alien crazy. But with all of these UFO documents being declassified, if the government was leaning on the future director of Ready Player One, perhaps we'll soon find out. 

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter! And check out the podcast Rewatchability.

Top Image: Columbia Pictures

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