As Spielberg was contractually unable to direct another film while he made E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Hooper was selected based on his work on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Funhouse. Spielberg conceived Poltergeist as a horror sequelto his 1977 film Close Encounters of the Third Kind titled Night Skies; however, Hooper was less interested in the sci-fi elements and suggested they collaborate on a ghost story. Accounts differ as to the level of Spielberg's involvement, butit is clear that he was frequently on set during filming and exerted significant creative control. For that reason, some have expressed the view that Spielberg should be considered the film's co-director or even main director, thoughboth Spielberg and Hooper have disputed this.
Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on June 4, 1982, Poltergeist was a major critical and commercial success, becoming theeighth-highest-grossing film of 1982. Years since its release, the film has been recognized as a horror classic. It was nominated for three Academy Awards, named by the Chicago Film Critics Association as the 20th-scariest film evermade, and the scene of the clown doll attack was ranked as No. 80 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments. The film also appeared at No. 84 on American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Thrills, a list of America's most heart-pounding movies. It was followedby Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986), Poltergeist III (1988), and a 2015 remake.
The film was reissued on October 29, 1982 to take advantage of the Halloween weekend.