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Launching a Superhero Genre Wasn’t His Intention, Says 'Superman' Director Donner

3 Jun, 2011 By: Chris Tribbey

Richard Donner

BURBANK, Calif. — Director Richard Donner admits he had a unique opportunity with Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, being the first director to complete a film he left during production, with nearly all of his footage already in the can.

“I’d just forgotten it,” said Donner, 81. “It was over and done with.”

Nearly 30 years after footage for the film was shot — and Donner was replaced by Richard Lester to finish production — Warner Home Video released Donner’s version of the film, to the delight of Superman fans.

“There are scenes in the cut that are outtakes and screen tests of both Margot [Kidder] and Christopher Reeve that we cut together and made a scene out of it. It was a body blow [being able to re-cut the 1980 film],” Donner said. “I never thought it would happen.”

June 7 Warner will do it again, this time with the release of Superman: The Motion Picture Anthology (1978-2006) on Blu-ray Disc. The eight-disc set includes the four films starring Reeve (with both the theatrical and director’s cuts of Superman and Superman II), as well as director Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns. The set will have more than 20 hours of bonus features, including the never-before-seen original opening of Superman Returns.

“Based on strong consumer demand for other Warner Bros. franchises offered in a Blu-ray collection, we are confident that the Superman Anthology will be well received by consumers,” said Jeff Baker, EVP and GM of Warner Home Video theatrical catalog.

Donner’s first experience with Blu-ray was Warner’s 25th anniversary release in 2010 of his film The Goonies.

“I saw things, in some of the better prints that we had of the movie, that [I hadn’t seen before],” he said. “[Blu-ray] is extraordinary, extraordinary, extraordinary. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, because they can find imperfections.”

Superhero fans often point to the legacy of Donner’s 1978 Superman as the reason so many superhero movies are released today, crediting Donner’s film for being the first to treat superhero films seriously.

“I hate to take credit for anything because then you’re liable,” Donner said. “We went out to make a movie — two actually [with principal photography for the first two films shot at the same time]. You had no idea it would take off. Did it start something? I guess so. Was that our intention? No way. It was just to make a movie.”

While he said he enjoyed 2006’s Superman Returns, Donner didn’t pull any punches regarding the third and fourth “Superman” films.
“I think they went terribly astray in the other ‘Supermans,’ after they decided [writer-consultant] Tom Mankiewicz and I should leave,” Donner said, laughing.

Warner’s Superman: The Motion Picture Anthology (1978-2006) on Blu-ray has a list price of $129.95, and every film comes with a DTS-HD-MA soundtrack. Other extras include deleted scenes, commentaries, the 1951 movie Superman and the Mole-Men and two documentaries also presented in high-def: Look Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman and The Science of Superman.


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