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Will 'E.T.' phone home? Big dig for old Atari games set for this month

April 11, 2014 at 6:26 AM ET

The big dig is finally about to happen at Alamogordo, N.M., but will it be anything to phone home about?

The public has been invited to watch as a team from Fuel Industries, LightBox Interactive and Microsoft's Xbox begins excavating a landfill that's long been rumored to be the burial ground for millions of unsold copies of Atari's "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," one of the biggest video game flops of all time.

The excavation is set for April 26, according to Xbox, which will air a documentary about the dig on Xbox One and Xbox 360. The announcement came after New Mexico environmental regulators granted approval for the dig, according to the Alamogordo Daily News.

Image: A scene from 'E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial'
Universal Studios
A scene from the 1982 film 'E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial'

"We hope you'll join us as we get to the bottom of one of gaming's biggest mysteries," Xbox said.

The Alamogordo landfill has been the stuff of video-game urban legend ever since rumors spread that Atari secretly disposed of millions of unsold game cartridges there in 1983, after "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" became a massive commercial dud.

The video game was based on the wildly popular 1982 Steven Spielberg movie about a boy who befriends an extraterrestrial who is mistakenly left behind on Earth.

More details about the April 26 dig, which starts at 9:30 a.m. local time, can be found on the Xbox website.

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