The real Travis Walton and Dana Walton make cameo appearances in the scene where the townspeople discuss what to do about Travis' disappearance.
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There were actually a total of seven men in the logging crew. The writers whittled them down to six for the movie, not wishing to confuse the audience with too many characters. All seven men have passed lie detector tests, some of them twice.
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The abduction portrayed in the movie actually had nothing to do with Travis Walton's account. After being struck by the light, Walton remembers waking up on a table surrounded by three aliens, whom he described thusly: "Their bald heads were disproportionately large for their puny bodies. They had bulging, oversized craniums, a small jaw structure, and an underdeveloped appearance to their features that was almost infantile. Their thin-lipped mouths were narrow; I never saw them open. Lying close to their heads on either side were tiny crinkled lobes of ears. Their miniature rounded noses had small oval nostrils. The only facial feature that didn't appear underdeveloped were those incredible eyes! Those glistening orbs had brown irises twice the size of those of a normal human eye's, nearly an inch in diameter! The iris was so large that even parts of the pupils were hidden by the lids, giving the eyes a certain catlike appearance. There was very little of the white part of the eye showing. They had no lashes and no eyebrows." According to Walton's account, he leaped up from the table, grabbed an instrument on a nearby table, wielded it as a weapon, and swung it at the aliens. They filed out of the room. Walton walked into a room with a high backed chair in the middle and took a seat. Upon operating a set of controls, he deduced that he was in some sort of observatory. Suddenly, a man in a blue suit with a glass helmet came through a doorway. When Walton spoke to him, he didn't respond; he merely guided Walton through the doorway. The wordless man lead Walton through a doorway, out of a saucer-like object, into a hangar filled with other saucers, down a hallway, and into a room that featured three more humans. Walton's questions continued to go unanswered as they motioned for him to lie down on the table. One of the 'humans', a woman, placed a mask over his face and he immediately passed out. All of this was consciously recollected by Walton, and when undergoing hypnotic regression soon after the incident, he revealed no further information and stated that he felt as though delving any deeper would kill him.
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According to unconfirmed rumors, a remake is underway with the real account of Travis Walton.
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Director Robert Lieberman said author Anne Rice told him the movie was the scariest movie she had seen at the time.
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Director Robert Lieberman said the alien abduction sequence came to him in a series of dreams over the course of eight months developing the movie.
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According to director Robert Lieberman, he did not want to cast D.B. Sweeney. With only days away from shooting, the role of Travis Walton was still not cast. Sherry Lansing, CEO of Paramount Pictures, told Robert Lieberman he must cast D.B. Sweeney or else the movie would be canceled.
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"Fire in the Sky" is a verse from the lyrics of the extremely popular rock song of the time, "Smoke on the Water" by the band Deep Purple released 1972.
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Craig Sheffer was nearly fired from the movie. Director Robert Lieberman said he would often show up late to work on the movie. The other actors and producers were annoyed. The only reason he was not fired was Robert Lieberman said his attitude adapted the character well.
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The second movie Henry Thomas starred in about extraterrestrial life. The first is his famous performance as Elliot in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982).
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Travis Walton has always resented this movie, which he says misrepresents his experience, especially the abduction scenes, which bear little resemblance to Walton's account (which screenwriter Tracy Tormé essentially admits, saying that Walton's description was deemed to similar to other media portrayals of alien abduction reports, so they wrote a "flashier, more provocative" scenario). Three years after the film's release, Walton responded with a book called "Fire in the Sky: The Walton Experience" (1996), clarifying his own account of events. He's also spoken many times of trying to get his story re-told on film again, this time in a way where he retains some control, to ensure the movie reflects his account of what happened. But there's been little sign of this project getting off the ground.
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Studio executives thought the movie would be a success. According to director Robert Lieberman, director William Friedkin and husband of Sherry Lansing gave the movie a standing ovation after watching the movie. Despite a wide release, the movie was not financially successful at the time.
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The movie's alien abduction scenes bear no resemblance to Travis Walton's actual claims. Screenwriter Tracy Tormé reported that executives found Walton's account boring, and insisted on the changes.
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Epilogue: "Mike and Katie Rogers divorced in 1976. Mike worked in carpentry, construction and house painting before accepting a job in 1992 to once again cut trees on the Mogollon Rin. Travis and Dana Walton live with their four children in Snowflake, Arizona where Travis is foreman at a local mill. In February of 1993, Cyrus Gilson re-administered a polygraph examination to Travis Walton, Mike Rogers and Allan Dallis, whose earlier test proved inconclusive... This time, they all passed."
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The movie begins with a quote by Roman playwright Seneca the Younger: "Chance makes a plaything of a man's life."
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Confusingly, there is another movie sharing the title A Fire in the Sky (1978), with the other one released in 1978, just three years after Walton's abduction. Coincidentally, both movies are set in Arizona, and both tell the story of a mysterious object from space, coming to Earth (but in the 1978 movie, the object is a meteor, rather than a flying saucer).
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According to accounts, Travis Walton's abduction occurred on November 5, 1975. Actor Robert Patrick's birthdate was November 5, 1958, making the abduction take place on Patrick's 17th birthday.
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According to an interview with D.B. Sweeney, he was excited to learn that Industrial Light and Magic would be handling the special effects. At the time the movie was being made, James Cameron held the rights to a Spiderman movie with ILM providing the special effects. Sweeney thought that if he could do the wire work on Fire in the Sky and do it well, then this work would be his "audition" for Spiderman (of course we now know that the James Cameron Spiderman project never came to fruition).
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The motion picture has little to do with the real Travis Walton incident. Out of the six characters (including Travis Walton) that were present at the Abduction, Travis, Mike Rogers and Allan Dallis are based on real people. The other three men were fictionalized.
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Robert Patrick and Peter Berg also appear in the film Cop Land.
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The second alien movie Henry Thomas was in e.t being the first.
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