There exists a parallel world where Super 8 does not represent the first time pop culture polymaths J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg have collaborated on a movie. In fact, perhaps in the "over there" universe of Abrams' Fox TV series Fringe, there exists a sequel to the Spielberg-produced Who Framed Roger Rabbit written by Abrams that was released sometime in the early '90s. In our world, however, that movie project was only discussed, never made, and its only significance to our present is that it facilitated the first meeting between Spielberg and Abrams. The year was 1989, and Abrams was a recent college grad whose first sold script (written with Jill Mazursky), Taking Care Of Business, was about to become a modestly amusing major motion picture starring James Belushi for The Walt Disney Company. The previous year, Disney and Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment had scored a massive worldwide hit with the Robert Zemeckis-directed Roger Rabbit and were soliciting ideas for a sequel. Abrams was invited to pitch some. He didn't get a job (and to date, a sequel remains unmade despite years of development with many other writers), but Abrams recalls leaving the meeting totally animated nonetheless. "I remember calling Matt Reeves [Abrams' friend and Felicity co-creator] in the car and being just so out of my mind excited that I got completely lost," recalls Abrams. "I had no idea what freeway I had gotten on. I was miles off course. I shouldn't have been driving, frankly."
The first official Spielberg/Abrams collaboration occurred when Abrams did some writing work on the Spielberg-produced Casper, released in 1995. By that time, Abrams had penned the movies Regarding Henry starring Harrison Ford and Forever Young starring Mel Gibson. "At this time in his career, [Abrams] wasn't yet a director, but a writer, and he was a great writer," recalls Spielberg. "He was very witty and he adores plot structure and storytelling. There are a lot of writers who write brilliant dialogue and who can do wonderful confrontational drama and comedy. But not everybody knows story. Whether it's a character story or a pure plot-driven story, J.J. is amazing."