This June 20 sees Warner Bros. releasing new DVD editions of Superman, Superman II, Superman III, and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, along with the third season of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and season 3 & 4 of the classic 50s series The Adventures of Superman and lastly, season 1 of the late 80s series Superboy.
As I mentioned in a post back in January, Warners has also finally agreed to release a second version of Superman II, the one directed by Richard Donner. To save production cost, Warners had the writers, producers and director film Superman and its sequel simultaneously. But as production problems where adding up -and facing a possible delay release of the first film -the Salkind’s and Donner stopped working on Superman II (with about 80% or more of the film finished) and worked on getting the first film in theaters.But the Salkind’s and Donner’s tenuous relationship boiled over before the director could return to finish Superman II and he was fired. The problems that the Salkind’s faced was -besides a dealy in the planned release of II - was keeping Donner’s name off the film. But DGA rules were in his favor, due to the fact so much of the sequel was done.
So, the Salkind’s decided to reshoot most of the film with Richard Lester now at the helm. They scrapped much of Donner’s work and reworked the script -adding some the cheesy humor that took over the film. Plus, during this time, Director of Photography Geoffrey Unsworth passed away, and in solidarity with Donner, composer John Williams refused to score the sequel (his theme was used, but the score was completed by Ken Thorne) and actors Marlon Brando (who was only suppose to be in a small part in Superman II; those scenes were filmed using Susanna York) and Gene Hackman refused to work with Lester.
Despite some these problems, Superman II worked, but with two decades behind it, the film does have an obvious chaoticness to it, with Donner’s scenes juxtapositioned (basically all of Hackman’s scenes) in with Lester’s; a tale of two very different directors and styles.
Now with a chance to fix what should’ve never happened, Donner has supervised this new version and it will released on June 20.