In 1982 the release of E.T. captured the hearts of America. As ticket sales soared to record heights on this $10 million production others became eager to cash in on the success including Atari owning 80% of the video game market at the time.
The head of Warner Communications championed a deal with Spielberg to program a video game version of the film. The project was rushed through development in only a few short months in an effort to capitalize on the fast approaching 1982 holiday season.
The company manufactured a reported 5 million E.T. game cartridges for use with their 2600 console. Nearly all of the copies were returned by retailers citing malfunctions. The game was almost impossible to play.
The company quickly found themselves with a massive amount of merchandise that couldn’t be sold. A short time later 14 truckloads of the useless game were dispatched from the company storehouse in El Paso, Texas to the Alamogordo landfill in New Mexico and dumped before being covered with concrete.
The company suffered a loss of $310.5 million in the second quarter of 1983 and contributed to the video game crash of 1984 lasting two years.