"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" is being shown at the new Holladay Center Cinemas Friday to kick off the series of free movies being offered by the Deseret News and Cineplex Odeon Theaters.

But this isn't the "Close Encounters" you can rent on video, nor the one you may have seen on television. This is the 1977 film that was Steven Spielberg's original vision.Three years after its premiere, Spielberg received a bonus from Columbia Pictures. Since "Close Encounters" had made so much money, the studio gave Spielberg a couple of million dollars so he could tinker with the film some more and expand the ending - going inside the mother ship - which he couldn't afford with the earlier version.

The "Special Edition" was well received, and he did tighten up a couple of scenes that perhaps went a bit long. But the brief moment inside the ship at the film's conclusion was little more than a laser light show and disappointed many who had anticipated something "special."

When "Close Encounters" made it to television, the commercial network version included all the footage from both of Spielberg's cuts, and that's the way it has been shown on TV ever since.

The original film has not been seen since its initial release and is not available on video - only the "Special Edition" is available on cassette.

Many national critics have expressed the wish that Spielberg had left the film alone in the first place, though few would argue that in any form "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" is a modern science fiction classic.

The special Deseret News-Cineplex Odeon showing Friday, however, is a rare opportunity to experience the film as it was originally seen.

To get into screenings of "Close Encounters" Friday at the new Holladay Center Cinemas, or for admission to any of the free movies being sponsored by the Deseret News this coming week, you must have an original ad from the newspaper (here is one on this page today), which is good for two people. If you have more than two in your party, you can always pick up another copy of the Deseret News from newsstands around town. You cannot purchase tickets to these films, however, and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Each movie will be shown only one day with several screenings beginning around noon. Showtimes are listed in the ads, which will run in the Deseret News daily through Thursday.

The other free movies, all of which are promised to be prints in excellent condition, are "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (Saturday), "Casablanca" (Sunday), "Modern Times" (Monday), "Singin' In the Rain" (Tuesday), "Ben Hur" (Wednesday) and "An Affair to Remember" (Thursday).

The new Cineplex Odeon Holladay Center Cinemas is a six-plex located on 48th South on the north side of the Cottonwood Mall, but don't think it's like so many of the crackerbox multiplex theaters around these days. From the marble walls, to the escalator and stairway that lead to the upper level auditoriums, to the surprisingly comfortable chairs, this is a theater the way they used to make them.

What is most impressive, however, is how large the screens are, even in the smaller auditoriums that have just over 200 seats. How often have you sat in smaller multiplex auditoriums and had to strain to see the detail on postage stamp-size screens? That's no problem here.

There are also other free movie programs being shown at Cineplex Odeon Theaters: Another series at the Holladay Center Cinemas sponsored by radio station KSOP offers free admission if you have a KSOP Country Club Card, available at local Albertson's stores - "Fatal Attraction" (Friday), "Robocop" (Saturday), "Dragnet" (Sunday), "The Living Daylights" (Monday), "Stakeout" (Tuesday) and "The Untouchables" (Wednesday). On Friday at the Holladay, "The Wizard of Oz" will be shown, free with tickets from KSTU-TV (Ch. 13), available at Major Video (21st South and Seventh East).

Cineplex Odeon is also offering free movies each Saturday through the summer at 10 a.m. in the Family Center Trolley and the Midvalley Cinemas theaters, with tickets available at local Hardee's restaurants. This Saturday the film is "The Karate Kid."