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Two ‘Super' Directors Talk Heroes and DVD

22 Jul, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

'Superman' film franchise directors (L-R) Bryan Singer and Richard Donner.

SAN DIEGO — Superman Returns director Bryan Singer touched on his superhero's upcoming DVD as he fielded critiques from a huge audience of fans at Comic-Con Friday July 21.

Singer shared the stage with his friend, mentor and fellow “Superman” director Richard Donner, who gave fans a peek at Warner's Nov. 28 release of Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut. (Donner actually teased the new version at several events during the convention.)

Singer brought along a Superman Returns gag reel, featuring the actors flubbing lines and attempting to screw each other up with off-color adlibs.

“Can you put that on the DVD,” one fan in the audience asked.

“Sure,” Singer replied glibly. “Rob, put that on there,” he said, addressing his DVD producer, Robert Meyer Burnett, who was in the audience.

In a separate panel later that day, Burnett offered fans a Singer-approved sneak peek at part of the DVD extras — footage of star Brandon Routh getting ready for his screen test.

The twist in the footage is that Routh was the only person in the room at the time that didn't know he had already been cast.

The Superman Returns DVD documentary is different from anything Burnett's done with Singer before (the pair also collaborated on both of Singer's "X-Men" movies).

Burnett came up with a two-and-a-half-hour documentary for the disc, titled “Requiem for Krypton.”

“There are no sit-down interviews; it's all totally behind-the-scenes ‘you are there' footage,” he said. “Bryan told me, ‘think of this as your next feature film.’

One thing that probably won't be on the DVD, Singer said, is an elaborate special-effects-laden scene that shows Superman returning to the remnants of his home planet.

“A $10 million scene,” Singer said, with a wince.

Still, the director thinks it might be too big for DVD.

“It might be underwhelming on DVD,” he said.

However, there might be potential for some kind of theatrical re-release in the future with the scene edited back in, he added. Singer quickly noted that he's not looking to milk fans, just looking for a way to get that expensive scene out there properly.

As a rule, Singer said he doesn't particularly like extended-edition director's cuts that are different from the theatrical version for DVD.

“I'm always leery about that because when people go to rent or buy a movie, I want it to be exactly the movie they are expecting, not something different,” he said.

What he does have a lot of for the DVD are deleted scenes, especially moments on the Kent farm among the family members, Singer said.

And, while the director has not officially signed on for another installment, he's definitely got one on his mind.

“My intention is to do it for 2009,” he said. “And it's exciting because where for this one required some re-introduction of the story, the next one allows me to get all Wrath of Kahn on it.”

This brought cheers from the audience, who filled out the main Comic-Con hall to grill Singer about their likes and dislikes of his treatment of the Superman mythos.

Those cheers intensified when Singer called fellow director Richard Donner to the stage.

Singer has been longtime friends with Donner and Donner's wife, Lauren Schuler Donner, who produced all three “X-Men” films.

Donner heaped praise on the younger director, even as fans carefully prodded Singer about some of his decisions, from casting to storylines like Lois Lane's child.

“I think what he did was pure and honest and up-to-date, and he did it with my friendship and support,” Donner said, leading the crowd in a standing ovation.

It was a mutual admiration meeting of the two directors.

“If Dick hadn't done that movie [the 1978 Superman], there would be no comic book movies,” Singer said. “He laid the template for Batman, X-Men, everything, without him these movies wouldn't even exist. There would only be bad TV shows.”

As for Donner's hotly anticipated version of Superman II, the director said he is very gratified that Warner put up the money for it, is releasing it to DVD and that film editor Michael Thau was so committed to getting it done.

“I never thought it would see the light of day,” he said.

He talked about cutting a “pivotal” scene together with screen test footage of Christopher Reeve at two different times of filming because the actual scene was never shot.

“Amazingly, it works,” he said.

Singer, who has seen the Donner cut, agreed: “You get totally swept up in it.”

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