It has been 40 years since everyone’s favorite extraterrestrial, E.T., made his famous attempt to “phone home.” Trapped on a planet with no way of contacting his people, he has to improvise (with a little help from his friend Elliott) to reach his home planet. Working with businesses that are often looking for virtual phone numbers to expand into new territories, we know what it’s like to struggle to communicate over long distances. With that in mind, and to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of E.T., we wanted to find out just how much a phone call home would actually cost Steven Spielberg’s beloved character.


Using location and AT&T call data, we worked out the full cost of E.T.’s phone home. To find out exactly how we did it, take a look at our methodology below. We put together our findings into a shareable graphic, as well as an interactive tool that takes you on a journey through space to E.T.’s home planet. Click here to blast off!


How Much Would It Cost E.T. to Phone Home?


An important part of our research was working out where E.T. actually lives. While it’s not named in the film, his planet is named in the follow-up book, E.T.: The Book of the Green Planet. In the film’s promotional material, it’s stated that he’s “3,000,000 lightyears from home”. So, how much would it cost for him to make the long phone call home to Brodo Asogi?


Working out a cost per mile

To work this out, we had to calculate the cost per mile of an “international call” made from California, the state in which the film is set. To begin with, we compiled a list of the costs per minute for a phone call to every country in the world. We used AT&T as the provider, as it’s currently California’s biggest phone provider. We then multiplied each of these costs by ten to simulate a ten-minute phone call – enough time for E.T. to fill everyone in on his adventures.


We calculated the cost per mile for each country by dividing the cost of each 10-minute call by the distance to each of them from the West American state. The average cost came out at $0.004343021 per mile.


Converting the distance

In order to calculate the cost for E.T.’s call, we converted the distance to Brodo Asogi from lightyears to miles. To figure this out we found the speed of light, which is 186,000 miles per second. Therefore, a lightyear is 5,865,696,000,000 miles. We know from the movie that Brodo Asogi is 3,000,000 lightyears away, so all we needed to do then was multiply the number of lightyears by the amount in miles to get our total of 17,597,088,000,000,000,000 miles. To give you an idea of scale, that’s the same distance as traveling around the world 706 trillion times.


The total cost

To work out the cost of a call, we multiplied our distance in miles by our original cost per mile. That gave us a total cost of $76,424,516,944,816,700.00, or $76 quadrillion. That’s about 20 million times the entire net worth of E.T.’s director Steven Spielberg. It’s a good job E.T. didn’t use a landline in the movie, or Elliott’s mom might have had quite a surprise on her phone bill.


Other calculations and landmarks

We primarily wanted to chart the journey of E.T. However, the nerd inside us also wanted to calculate the distance (and cost of calls) to other planets and systems from both the real world and from science fiction, including Star Trek and Star Wars. Funnily enough, E.T.’s planet does feature in the Star Wars universe. In fact, members of his species make a brief cameo in Episode I: The Phantom Menace, an Easter egg courtesy of George Lucas in reply to Spielberg’s inclusion of Star Wars figurines in E.T.


What do you think of our calculations? Have any more advice on how to successfully expand your business into the next galaxy (or country)? Let us know on Twitter at @TFFSocial.