TOKYO - Steven Spielberg says the days when movie audiences sympathize with a lovable alien such as E.T. may be over.
"It seemed like the time was right for me as a filmmaker to let the audience experience an alien that is a little less pleasant than E.T.," Spielberg said Monday at a post-premiere news conference for his new film, "War of the Worlds."
"Today, in the shadow of 9/11, I think the film has found a place in society," said Spielberg, who directed 1982's "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" and 1977's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."
He noted the panic-causing radio play of H.G. Wells' alien invasion novel was produced in the late 1930s, when many feared the rise of Naziism in Germany, while the 1953 movie, "The War of the Worlds," was made during the Cold War.
"All occurred at a time of great unease in the world," he said.
In "War of the Worlds," Spielberg substitutes space invaders called "tripods" for the Martians of Wells' book. He said the first tripod is killed in Osaka, Japan's second-largest city.
"Osaka has a lot of experience," he said, referring to the many scenes of urban destruction in "Godzilla" and other Japanese monster flicks. "I'm proud of the film, and I'm proud to bring it to Japan."
Tom Cruise, star of the movie, said "War of the Worlds" is more about family values than interplanetary disturbances.
"The idea was always about family," Cruise said. "What would you do for your family? How far would you go? Can you protect your family?"
"War of the Worlds" opens in theaters on June 29.