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Studio vice president Sidney Sheinberg was impressed by the film, which had won a number of awards, and offered Spielberg a seven-year directing contract.It made him the youngest director ever to be signed for a long-term deal with a major Hollywood studio. When I began to work with Steven, I understood everything.Spielberg's debut full-length feature film was The Sugarland Express, about a married couple who are chased by police as the couple tries to regain custody of their baby.Spielberg's cinematography for the police chase was praised by reviewers, and The Hollywood Reporter stated that "a major new director is on the horizon." However, the film fared poorly at the box office and received a limited release. Zanuck and David Brown offered Spielberg the director's chair for Jaws, a thriller-horror film based on the Peter Benchley novel about an enormous killer shark.Another TV film (Something Evil) was made and released to capitalize on the popularity of The Exorcist, then a major best-selling book which had not yet been released as a film.He fulfilled his contract by directing the TV film-length pilot of a show called Savage, starring Martin Landau.It won Oscars in two categories (Cinematography, Vilmos Zsigmond, and a Special Achievement Award for Sound Effects Editing, Frank E. This second blockbuster helped to secure Spielberg's rise.His next film, 1941, a big-budgeted World War II farce, was not nearly as successful and though it grossed over .4 million worldwide (and did make a small profit for co-producing studios Columbia and Universal) it was seen as a disappointment, mainly with the critics.
He is considered one of the founding pioneers of the New Hollywood era, as well as being viewed as one of the most popular directors and producers in film history.
Spielberg then revisited his Close Encounters project and, with financial backing from Columbia Pictures, released Close Encounters: The Special Edition in 1980.
For this, Spielberg fixed some of the flaws he thought impeded the original 1977 version of the film and also, at the behest of Columbia, and as a condition of Spielberg revising the film, shot additional footage showing the audience the interior of the mothership seen at the end of the film (a decision Spielberg would later regret as he felt the interior of the mothership should have remained a mystery).
Crawford, however, was "speechless, and then horrified" at the thought of a twenty-one-year-old newcomer directing her, one of Hollywood's leading stars. It was immediately obvious to me, and probably everyone else, that here was a young genius.
I thought maybe more experience was important, but then I thought of all of those experienced directors who didn't have Steven's intuitive inspiration and who just kept repeating the same old routine performances.