Special Edition Superman DVDs on the Way
By Barry M. Freiman
This is no fantasy.
The Superman Homepage has learned exclusive details regarding Time Warner's work on new DVDs of the five Superman films released between 1978 and 1987. Ilya Salkind, who co-produced the first three "Superman" films, "Supergirl", and the "Superboy" television series, confirmed that he is indeed working with Michael Thau, the Producer and Restoration Supervisor on the 2001 Special Edition of "Superman: The Movie", and others who've been retained by Time Warner to produce new versions of the original Superman films (and Supergirl) for DVD release in conjunction with marketing plans for 2006's "Superman Returns".
"[T]he five DVDs are coming out," Salkind said in a recent telephone interview. Along with his late father, Alexander, and childhood friend, Pierre Spengler, Salkind produced the original Superman films (all except 1987's "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace" produced by the Canon Group in a one-shot film deal they had with the Salkinds).
Salkind is working with Time Warner on the DVDs. According to Salkind, Time Warner now owns all of the footage shot for 1978's "Superman", 1980's "Superman II", 1983's "Superman III", 1984's "Supergirl", and 1987's "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace" including distribution rights. This is consistent with last year's announcement by director Bryan Singer that he had purchased rights to all of the footage shot for "Superman" and "Superman II" so that he could incorporate the voice and image of Marlon Brando's Jor-El (Superman's biological father) into the upcoming "Superman Returns." A recent teaser trailer for the new film uses both Brando's voice and the original musical score by John Williams to connect the new film with the original franchise rather than attempt to supplant it.
According to Salkind, "I'm in touch with Michael Thau and I'm also in touch with another guy who does the documentaries and [DVD special features]." Thau declined to comment and referred all inquiries to Warner Home Video.
Salkind plans to "do commentaries of [Superman] I, II, and III [and] Pierre [Spengler] did his already." In addition, Salkind would like to do a commentary track for "Supergirl", which was released on DVD previously by Anchor Bay Entertainment. "I'm going to do a commentary [on "Supergirl"] and this time hopefully Helen [Slater] will do it..." Time Warner has acquired all distribution rights to "Supergirl" from Anchor Bay, according to Salkind, and plans to release that film along with the four Superman movies.
While "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace" was not a Salkind production (Salkind and his father have a credit for initiating the Superman film series in "Superman IV"), Salkind believes Time Warner owns that film's footage as well and is in touch with director Sydney Furie.
The biggest revelation of the interview concerns plans for "Superman II". Scenes shot by fired director Richard Donner (who directed "Superman: The Movie"), including all of Brando's work for the second film, may finally see the light of day. "There will be a Donner cut [of "Superman II"] from what I hear," Salkind said. "There will apparently be an original cut with the original music and more stuff." Whether the extra footage will be presented as an alternative version of the film or included as a supplement has not yet been determined.
Actor Jack O'Halloran, who played mute super-villain Non in "Superman" and "Superman II" confirmed that Time Warner interviewed him about his work on both films. Like Salkind, O'Halloran believes there will be a Donner version of "Superman II". "I understand they