Warner Polishing Up 'Superman' Originals21 Jul, 2006 By: Thomas K. Arnold
SAN DIEGO — On the heels of the box office success of Superman Returns, Warner Home Video July 21 at San Diego Comic-Con International is set to announce it is polishing up the four original “Superman” movies, starring Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel, and giving them the DVD special treatment.
The highlight of the Nov. 28 DVD rollout: Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut ($24.98), a revised version of the controversial 1980 sequel as it was originally conceived and intended to be filmed by director Richard Donner, who also helmed the 1978 original.
Donner was fired midway through the shoot and replaced by Richard Lester, who gave the film more of a comic bent. The version of the film being prepared for the DVD features Donner's original footage, shot but never used, including a never-before-seen beginning, a different ending, and 15 minutes of Marlon Brandon as Jor-El in key scenes that probe deeper into Superman lore and further the relationship between father and son.
Donner had shot most of the Superman II footage while he was filming Superman: The Movie. But as production of the sequel continued, friction between the director and the film's producers led to his dismissal. Lester was hired to finish the shoot and wound up making substantial changes.
Fan demand ultimately led Warner Bros. to bring Donner back to the studio to remake the movie the way he intended. The re-edit, produced this year, was supervised by Donner, Tom Mankiewicz and Michael Thau, an editor who worked with Donner on the 2001 director's cut and restoration of Superman: The Movie.
According to a Warner statement, “with this DVD release, Richard Donner has become the first director in history to be able to complete a film he left during production with nearly all his footage in the can. Adding back a substantial amount of that unused footage, the director has seen his original vision restored and brought to fruition.”
Warner Home Video also is releasing a four-disc special edition of Superman: The Movie ($39.92), “deluxe editions” of Superman III and Superman IV ($19.97 each), and a two-disc special edition of Richard Lester's theatrical version of Superman II ($26.99). These four films also will be available in an eight-disc boxed set, The Christopher Reeve Superman Collection ($79.92).
Orders for all “Superman” movies are due Sept. 19.
The four-disc Superman: The Movie includes two versions of the movie: the 1978 theatrical original and the 2001 director's cut. The former includes commentary by producer Pierre Spengler and executive producer Ilya Salkind; the latter, commentary by Donner and Mankiewicz.
The set also includes three documentaries and a TV special on the making of the film and the Superman legend, restored scenes, screen tests, nine vintage Max Fleischer Superman cartoons, and the 1951 movies Superman and the Mole-Men, starring TV Superman George Reeves.
Superman II comes with commentary by Spengler and Salkind, vintage TV specials on the making of the film and the 50th anniversary of Superman, a new featurette on the Fleischer cartoon series and eight Famous Studios Superman cartoons.
Today at Comic-Con, Warner's “Superman” DVDs will be formally announced at 1 p.m. in Room 20 in a session called “Superman Through the Ages.” The studio promises special guests from the Man of Steel's various film and TV incarnations and a reunion of the key creative talent behind the newly reconstructed Super Man II — The Richard Donner Cut, including Mankiewicz and Thau.